Rationality will not save you

This is long so feel free to skip it.

A few days ago I watched a documentary titled The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. In short, it was about the life and times of former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara and his take of the nature of modern warfare.

In the documentary, McNamara goes on to outline eleven lessons of war.
Lessons number 2 and 11 are why I decided to share this post with you. Here they are:
#2: Rationality will not save us;
#11: You can’t change human nature.

Both lessons, and the entire movie actually, suggest that emotions are the mother of action. Since it’s not my intention to give the movie away, here’s just a little taste: one of the best stories told by McNamara is the story about how the American diplomat Llewellyn E. “Tommy” Thompson Jr. helped prevent the nuclear catastrophe during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Everyone knew that starting a nuclear war was not a rational thing to do, but no real progress was achieved until Thompson suggested to the president Kennedy that the Soviet leader at the time, Khrushchev, would likely be willing to withdraw Soviet missiles from Cuba as long as he could portray the avoidance of a U.S. invasion of Cuba as a strategic success story in front of his own people. Said differently, if the Americans managed to provide an opportunity for Khrushchev to save face, the nuclear catastrophe would be avoided. (If you look up the word portray in the dictionary, you’ll likely find this definition: To represent dramatically, as on stage.)

The big question on your mind right now is likely this:
What’s the above documentary got to do with marketing?
Every time you set out to promote something you start a mini waryou’re fighting tooth and nail for attention. And while it’s tempting to think that rationality of your message alone will bring home the bacon, the experience shows us that it will not. It’s easy to forget that.