Friday, June 16, 2006

Marketing Terror 101

You couldn't beat the Nazi's for understanding the subtleties of communicating "terror."

Of course, the Nazis were awful human beings. But as "marketers" of their awfulness, they were superb.

Exhibit A: Putting air-driven sirens on their Stuka dive bombers. (cue aircraft diving noise) "STUKAS!" Egads, horrible sound, evil name and a big bomb to punctuate the thought = pure terror-branding success.

Exhibit B: Black uniforms for the SS secret police. Of course! Evil doesn't wear khaki. Evil wears BLACK! Duh! You think those black shiny boots were quiet? Heck no! Those terrible clips and clacks of goose-stepping was designed to make anyone swallow hard.

Exhibit C: Panzer Tiger tanks. What a name - "Panzer Tiger Tank." In WWII, the Brits had the "Matilda." The American's had the "Sherman." The Nazi's had...PANZER TIGER. And the Tigers ate Matilda and Sherman up, too.

So, along comes North Korea, star-struck and hell-bent on winning the "I'm Rotten Too!" contest with Al Queda and Osama. Instead of hijacking planes, NK is going ballistic for MISSILES.

As a terror weapon, Missiles rule. No mess, no mug shots - just a big ol'red button and a huge WHOOSH! Everyone goes "oooh!" and "aaah." Scientists in lab-coats get to high-five along with the jackbooted military.

And such an opportunity for terror-naming - geez, just writing here, I'm coming up with a jillion great names for a missile - "SKORTCH" or "SKYVYPER" or "IMPAYLOR". And, using the clever spelling, NK could have them trademarked too!

But no. NK deems their new missile, "The Taepodong."

Oh bruther. Who on earth is going to be afraid of a Taepodong!? Granted, it's not as groin-pinching as NK's OTHER evil missile, the "No-dong," but it's still...well...silly! It's irrelevant that the "Taepodong" or "No-dong" or "Whateverdong" mean something really firey-nasty-rotten in NK. To the intended targets (i.e U.S.A), they're geeky. And frankly, geeky doesn't cut it here.

"Hey. Did you hear NK launched a bunch of missiles at us? They're supposed to hit in 7 minutes."
"Yeah. Taepodong 4's."
(pause) "No way!"
"What did you call them?!"
"Taepodongs. Is that stupid or what?!"
"What's a freaking 'Taepodong?!"
"Beats me, but it sounds"
"Well, for a sec I was thinking like a SCUD or a Russian KH-31."
"KH-31! Now THAT'S a Missile!"
"So..uh...wanna come over after work and watch American Idol with me and Michelle?"
"'k! See ya."
"Yeah. See ya."

And the Taepodong's whiz off harmlessly into space, where they eventually collide with the sun and leave a momentary blemish on the infernal surface.

Then, some lab-coat guy in an observatory writes in a journal, "Today I saw a little brown smear on the surface of the sun. I think I will call it a "tapodung."