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The battle for the Mind

By Debbie Ogunjobi
Advertising is an industry that works on the premise of suggestion. An idea is sold to millions of minds and the result is that choices are made to buy products or services that don’t necessarily fulfil the promises or suggestions proffered.

While the industry is the life blood of commerce, advertising is a field practised by one and all. The process of making ourselves look presentable and attractive everyday is a form of advertising. We play up our best features and dress ourselves in a manner that suggests we are something worth notice and attention.

The most common example of that is the joke or is it suggestion that most women look nothing like they did the night before first thing in the morning.

The suggestion of a firm body; supported by corsets and all sorts of undergarments is quickly dispelled when the mystery of clothes is done away with and make up as been known to hide warts and all sorts of rashes.

I am one of the many fans of Oprah Winfrey but a brave decision to allow herself to be photographed without makeup and hair extensions showed a face that would not have sold a single magazine or even present a show to an audience of one talk less of the billions that the glammed up spectacular woman that is the result of a full hair and makeup team.

In my mind advertising is the presentation of a version of truth and in some cases outright falsehood in a manner where the mind is seduced on the levels of the conscious, subconscious and even unconscious; it’s a fight for the mind; and we are all vulnerable.

One of my greatest fantasies is that I would be able to hear or see the inner workings of people’s minds; to know when what are coming out of their mouths are the true contents of their hearts. Wouldn’t it be great if we were all fitted with wooden noses like Pinocchio that grew every time we told a lie?

Or imagine an advert on television that would self destruct if its claims were false? I know a lot of professions would certainly be in jeopardy if truth became a staple for survival in the place of innuendos, implied falsehood and outright deceit! A recent advert recently caught my eye and it was a hindsight look at the soon to be held football World Cup in South Africa.

A man seats down and begins to reminisce about a time long ago when all Africans united to support the African teams in the football competition and talks about a special time, where brotherhood was the norm and implies some spectacular result by the African footballers and result is a fight for the mind of all Africans to be a part of history!

It goes on to suggest that the World Cup was a spectacular success and would still be the talk of the continent even 30 years after it was held; a story to be told by the generation present to the generations not born!! As an advert it is a stroke of genius and while I was not seduced, I can well imagine it being the tipping weight on the scale of the minds of those who are undecided.

In the world that we live in I am finding that the greatest advertisers are the politicians and I use the word “great” with a lot of caution!! My caution stems from the fact that what they sell to our minds are complete falsehoods and there is no better case in point than the drama surrounding the absence or is it disappearance of the Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua!!

He developed a serious heart condition in Nov 2009 and has not been seen in public for over  three months! An interview was credited to him on the BBC sometime in January of 2010 but most people, myself included, doubt the authenticity of it.

The result is a breakdown/loss of sanity in the minds of the money and power hungry individuals who walk the corridors of power! On the appointment of the Vice President as acting President, the sick Yar’Adua is suddenly shipped in in the dead of the night, with all lights switched off at the Abuja international airport to make sure he is not seen!

If recent reports are to be believed, he was kept in an ambulance for over a week before he is eventually brought into the presidential villa. Factions begin to emerge and we find those in the pro Yar’Adua camp keeping mum but silently frustrating all efforts to give any real power to Acting President Goodluck Jonathan.

The other faction is made up of those in the camp of the acting president and a lot of names are being thrown around the latest being “cabal” (a reference to the Yar’Adua loyalists). Meanwhile we are being sold the idea of a power hungry first lady, who guards her man and keeps him away from all eyes; even from those of his family and friends.

While I am averse to getting involved in politics; I find myself compelled to, at least, document this “dance of the macabre” and remind the politicians or is it advertisers that this battle of the minds is one they have lost.

The average Nigerian despises both camps and I remind them that even though Egyptians suffered hardship when Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go, it was only Pharaoh and his men that eventually made the bottom of the red sea, their final resting place.


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