With the debate now ongoing in the United States on whether or not to attack Syria because of their accused use of chemical weapons on civilians, the marketing wizards at the White House have already gone to work. In 1991 when the U.S. invaded Kuwait with a massive air campaign followed by the ground attack, it became known as “Desert Storm”.
The ground forces were led by General Norman Schwarzkopf, the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Central Command. He was labelled “Storm’n Norman” and he became a cult figure. To the soldiers and families of the men and women who participated in the air attack followed by the ground invasion, it was a a war.
As John Kerry, the U.S. Secretary of State debates with the Senate today, the marketing jargon is already beginning to appear. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard the term “Boots on the Ground” to describe whether or not ground forces will be necessary. This terminology to describe a war doesn’t appear by chance. It was very likely intentionally planted in the vocabulary of every news reporter by the White House spin doctors. If it’s said enough it becomes part of the story and it also becomes acceptable.
It may even glamourize this potential invasion or help to justify it. The world we live in loves jargon. Maybe it comes from social media where short forms are the norm, or in this case of invading Syria, it’s source is far more sinister. Even though I’m a marketing person, using the jargon “Boots on the Ground” to describe a potential ground invasion just doesn’t sit well. I’m sure it’s not too palatable to the potential military participants and their families either.
It seems to trivialize what their sons and daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters and friends are potentially going to be involved in very soon. Over my career I’ve created many examples of marketing jargon. The goal is always to make it memorable so it rolls off people’s tongues and stays embedded in their psyche. Creating it to describe a war to make it acceptable to a public just isn’t right.