Monday, February 24, 2014

I am a Ukrainian. The contradictions of marketing a real guerrilla.

There is something perversely contradictory about feeling manipulated for a good cause. 

Did I watch this video when so many posted it? Yes I did. Did I share it? Of course I did. The situation in Ukraine is just horrible and unacceptable. But is this the only reason I shared it? Perhaps not. I was, just like thousands of others, taken by the video for all the same reasons videos go viral. What do I mean?

Try, if you are able - and I know it's not easy - to put aside what is actually and tragically happening in Ukraine. Now look at the video again. You will see a very pretty girl, real sounds of 'battle', with a low drone music. You will see shots of violent clashes and you will hear her talking - with a broken voice - about wanting to be free. All the ingredients are there. 'Guerrilla marketing'. Literally.

And now bring back in what is going on in Kiev. I challenge anyone, after having read and seen the news in the last couple of days and weeks and having seen this video on any social network, to then decide not to share it.

But I am wondering: notwithstanding the fact that what is going on in Ukraine is far, far more important than any attempts at using known techniques to get our attention, why do I have a deep sense of unease at the thought that had it been a normal looking, 50 year-old, unemployed man telling me those same things, I might not have shared it? Isn't it a good thing to use all available means to get people interested in what is happening on the EU's doorstep? On the other hand, am I really so sure that the video of the 50 year-old Ukrainian would not have gone as viral?

Difficult questions, that will require a lot more thought before getting a decent answer. And hopefully, by then, the pretty young girl - and the 50 year-old unemployed man - will have returned home as Timoshenko has been released and a new government and early elections appear on the horizon.

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