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The Business of Influencing

advertising, radio, TV, newspaper, Madonna, US, Philippines, business influencing

We are all in the business of influencing.

If you're working for an advertising agency or any of its related disciplines, that is the case without a doubt. But whatever line of work you're in—whether you're the CEO of a multinational company or a volunteer firefighter in Chinatown—the job will for sure involve some kind of influencing.

It then goes without saying that we are all influencers but because man is a social animal, he too is influenced by others. And one way of tracing how human civilization developed is to find out who influenced who. The first millennium of mankind's history witnessed individuals who shaped the destiny of various nations while a few notorious ones brought great hardships. Now that we are in the second millennium, it is of interest what the new influencers has in store for the hip and ultra-tech generation.

From the dawn of time, men have looked up to something or someone to gain a sense of who they are and their place in the scheme of life. Famous personalities, in particular, have been the barometers—self-appointed or not—of how common people behave. This fact is more apparent now in this age of multimedia mania. Basically there's virtually no place that can't be reached by the gyrating of a Latin singing sensation or the rhetoric of a sweet-talking politician.

These individuals, by virtue of their social stature and sheer talent, have become celebrities. There’s Madonna, who—despite the enormous accomplishments and notoriety she has already achieved—just keeps on going like an unstoppable dynamo. Heir-apparent, Britney Spears, is showing great potential as well. Other Hollywood stars like Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts and filmmakers George Lucas and Steven Spielberg continue to make their presence felt. In the local scene, the indestructible Sharon Cuneta and the controversial Kris Aquino are household names and you have to be from Constellation Lyra not to know them.

In the world of sports, there’s no question of the influence that Shaquille O`Neil and other NBA giants have on aspiring young athletes the world over. Even Michael Jordan who came out from a much-hyped retirement is still a figure to contend with. The football arena which is usually associated with Latin America and Europe are steadily breaking new grounds. In Asia, South Korea and Japan are hotbeds of talents like Hidetoshi Nakata whose stature is rivaling Beckham’s and Ronaldo’s. Filipino sportsmen, where art thou? Oh, yes…Manny Pacquiao. Iba ang Pinoy!

Politics? That cesspool is a veritable source of maggots. But let us mention the names of the few good men and the not-so-good-bordering-on-incompetent politicians. Vladimir Putin, the less charismatic successor of the colorful Boris Yeltsin is now leading Mother Russia to a new era after 9-11. Jordanian King Abdullah’s taste for populism is evident when he goes out to public in disguise as he tries to herald a moderate government to a region where the opposite is the norm. For the other group, George Bush and Panfilo Lacson lead the wolves’pack. `Nuff said.

Finally, the working class. Throughout the 90s, dot-com entrepreneurs, investment bankers and venture capitalist were emulated because of the millions they rake in. Then the heroic efforts of New York emergency personnel during the 9-11 attacks suddenly made people re-evaluate their priorities. Faceless yet collective in power, these ordinary people may yet prove to be the real force to reckon with. Teddy Casino and Satur Ocampo…read and learn.

But are people the only influencers? The unenlightened may say yes but this view is incorrect. Another history lesson to remember: the human condition is developed by three interconnected factors and these are the events, the players and the places. The latter is by far the most ignored aspect and this risks incomplete judgment. We should always remember that people are influenced by the environment they live in.

Already more than 300 years old, multi-ethnic United States of America started out as refuge for the religiously persecuted Puritans of England. Now, its form of government, economic system and national lifestyle has been duplicated all over the world. Other multicultural nodes such as Australia, France and Malaysia are also magnets to people in search of better lives.

Japan, the land of electronic what’s-its and great sushi, may be in an economic rut right now but it has a lot more to offer. Read: those visually-stimulating Japanese animations, robo-dogs and outlandish teenage fashion which are putting young people spellbound. With the perennial stand-off between Western and Islamic nations, Turkey—a secular government with an overwhelmingly Muslim population—may find its position as a bridge towards greater understanding between peoples. Other countries, by virtue of the cultural hegemony they have over a vast area of land, like Indonesia, China and Spain (via Latin America) are hot places to be in right now.

Things too can exert influence to people on varying degrees. Humans have a predilection of attaching themselves to an object which has grown fond to them because of its usefulness and appeal. Through habitual use, this results to the development of a behavior or character trait. Today, highly-technological media objects dominate the scene. Sometimes, objects like a newspaper & TV may come to represent an institution from which great influence can emanate.

The Philippines has long been mesmerized by the finger muscle-challenging exercise that is SMS or text messaging. Meanwhile, as cellphone manufactures are getting hyper about fancy WAP applications and next-generation technology, the rest of the world has only recently come to terms with this relatively humdrum feature. Talk about delayed reaction. MP3, a file format which allows for the download of music via the Internet, is also making raves despite Napster’s fate. Now, almost everybody has the means to appropriate the reproduction and distribution of music.

Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based TV station, shot to international fame when it broadcasted the scoop on Osama bin Laden. For a long time, Al Jazeera is the only broadcaster in the region to air real political debates and controversies. Its influence is only exceeded by the number of complaints it has received. For our part, ABS-CBN has truly evolved to become a powerful media conglomerate regardless of the negative vibes we associate from this Lopez brainchild.

And of course, let’s not forget, with the latest special effects technology in filmmaking, there’s hardly anything that Hollywood can't do. It has been a rollercoaster ride for movie buffs since the first Star Wars movie opened in 1977. A whole new world was practically ushered in where make-believe characters and whimsical places tickle our fancy. To top it all, the critics and award-giving bodies are happy of this development. Remember Titanic and Gladiator?

Lest anyone mistake this article as the last word on the subject of influence, I'm taking the opportunity to say that it isn't. Every second, an idea is born. That idea will influence people to take on certain actions that will in turn shape societies. Those societies will later on produce individuals who shall lead, entertain and educate. This is the spiral of influence, not circle. A progressive spiral which gets bigger and bigger until it becomes an all-encompassing entity that touches lives, creates new ones and changes history forever.

So the question is not really a matter of who gets influenced by whom. At the end of the day, everybody gets influenced and gets to influence as well. So resist not the lady who coaxes you to boogie woogie, or fear the man who declares war to an imagined axis of evil, or hide the urge to text-in your inner most emotions to a loved one. The important thing is you have expressed yourself and felt the humanity inside.
Published: 2006-04-29
Author: Royce Ambrocio

About the author or the publisher
The author has been writing professionally for 10 years now across various industries: TV, print, advertising, and online commerce. He has done scripts for TV, feature articles in magazines and newspapers and copywriting for consumer, tranport and service companies.

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