The terrorist group that calls itself ISIS appears to be somewhat tech savvy. Every time they saw the head off another innocent human being they make sure to capture it all on their iPhones or Droids or whatever camera it is they use before uploading the gruesome video to YouTube, Reddit, Twitter, or whatever they call their version of Social Media.
Technology, as any Wall Street marketing firm will confirm, is absolutely essential to getting one’s message out. But what many terrorists apparently fail to understand is that the message matters more than the technology one uses to deliver it. In the world of marketing, ISIS has a branding problem. All these beheadings of innocent people – people who are humanitarians for the love of all things holy – has conflated whatever message they hoped to deliver to the American public.
What is it about these terrorists? They don’t seem to understand that the American public has the attention span of a flea. We jump from one war to the next in a matter of seconds. So while you have our attention – make your point clear. And make it in a way that entertains or charms us. Don’t waste our time with your barbarism.
We may watch your first beheading but you can be darn sure we aren’t watching the third or fourth one. The minute you show up online, we hit the click button. Terrorist groups would be better off hiring some big-wig New York ad agency to help develop a more appealing brand. These beheadings have become a terrorist trend so passé any Okie can carry one out.
Perhaps these terrorists underestimate the American public’s tolerance for violence. This generation of Americans grew up on Chucky. We might seek out horror on Halloween but we don’t hanker for it day in and day out, unless, of course, it is a book by Stephen King. We can’t get enough of him. But then that’s because we all know down deep King is a good guy. He’s the English teacher we all wish we had.
See, that’s the real problem with all these terrorist groups. They’ve lost track of their own story. They don’t even know why they are doing what they do. They’ve got so caught up in the process they’ve totally forgotten their own narrative.
Wall Street will tell you that’s the kiss of death for any terrorist hoping to get a message across. People have to know who you are and what your backstory is before they will listen to what you have to say. Being labeled a terrorist can absolutely wreck havoc on one’s brand and completely obliterate whatever message one intended to spread.
And it doesn’t take much to turn a brand sour. Just ask Ray Rice about how quickly it can all go south when the American public discovers how violent you really can be.
Karen Spears Zacharias is author of Mother of Rain (Mercer Univ. Press).