‘Propaganda’ used to be a regular word for ‘spreading the message, hoping to influence’. Since the Second World War it has a negative connotation. We still spread messages, of course. For doing so in a commercial context we now use the word ‘marketing’ – ‘propaganda’ would sound very wrong. As for marketing we see/hear/know when we are dealing with it, because it has a recognisable form. Nevertheless, we let marketing influence us, consciously or less consciously. The unconscious influencing is gaining ground as the tools that marketing is using are getting more numerous, more spread, more varied, more sophisticated … It was simple when there was just the radio and the newspaper. Today marketing has a worldwide web, and all the applications that come with it too.
Propaganda is also still happening. It still stands for ‘spreading the message, hoping to influence’, but in a less innocent way. Other than marketing, it does not have a specific form. So you have to be very alert to notice it. And, of course, propaganda has discovered and is making use of the same sophisticated worldwide channels that marketing is using. This makes propaganda more dangerous, sometimes even pervert. And because of the many ways in which the public is being confronted with all kinds of messages, propagandists take their message again one step further. Or one step too far.