Don’t Mention The War: Operation New Dawn

OK, so this is admittedly pushing the boundaries of what a daft blog about adverts tends to cover, but since journos are expected to be PRs these days, PRs expected to be marketers and marketers… well, you get the idea. We’re all multitaskers now.

Including the Pentagon, which has gone into the communications industry with the news that the Iraq War will no longer be called Operation Iraqi Freedom, but Operation New Dawn instead. Skipping over the fact that whoever comes up with these names – the hilariously, unfortunately-titled Operation Infinite Justice and Operation Enduring Freedom are previous clangers – must moonlight as the guy responsible for naming all new first-person shooters, I’m not clear what this rebrand achieves.

Because the second you drop white phosphorous on the population you’re supposedly liberating, all that talk of ‘evolving relationships’ starts sounding a little hollow, unless you’re explicit on evolving them from being people into being charred corpses. Can you rebrand a war? By its very nature war involves killing people in violent and unpleasant ways, whichever way you look at it. You might as well try to rebrand a killer virus, or road accidents.

You can wrestle all you want with the answer to what constitutes the first casualty of war, and the Newspeak aspect to it all, but at the end of the day what it reveals if the fundamental disconnect between advertising and reality. The very notion that anyone can be fooled into readjusting their perception of the Iraq occupation due to a nice slogan seems barking. Then again, so did the idea that anyone thought the war was over back in May 2003.