You know, there was once a time when you could go a week without hearing about the exploits of business tycoon and presidential candidate Donald J. Trump. Sure, he’s had strong media influence since before pupils at RHS were even born, but it wasn’t until he announced his bid to run in this presidential election that his presence became inescapable. Now he’s everywhere; in the news, on Twitter; he even has an official jam, and it’s every bit as cringe-inducing as you’d expect it to be.
However, the Trumpster isn’t exactly famous for the best of reasons. We all know that the outspoken White House hopeful holds some very questionable beliefs and controversial opinions. If you’re not a Caucasian, heterosexual, cisgender, English-speaking male, he’s probably insulted you (or at least tried to) in some way, shape or form. And, while it may seem like he’s shooting himself in the foot to be only appealing to a certain demographic (even if it is the single biggest voting group in the USA), the man isn’t stupid, believe it or not.
In the media industry, there is a well-known saying, “Any publicity is good publicity”, and it seems to me that Trump is endorsing such a philosophy with more gusto than I ever thought possible. This is most apparent in DJT’s controversial statements and tweets, for example his view that any woman who undergoes an abortion should be punished by law. This statement is so outrageous and abhorrent that people cannot help but share their disgust with the general public, be it through news outlets or social media. This is called “shock value”. Usually employed in stagnating TV shows to perhaps switch up the status quo or attract more viewers, Trump has used shock value in order to launch a free and more or less zero-effort advertising campaign.
But surely this can’t really lead Trump to success, can it? Okay, he may be getting a lot of attention, but it’ll only show voters how broken his school of thought is, right? Well, it’s hard to say. The thing is, fabricating bad publicity has been a popular and successful tactic in advertising for decades now. For example, many adult TV shows, movies and video games, such as those with extreme amounts of violence or an abundance of adult content, pay people solely for the purpose of coming up with controversial and negative publicity. Usually, these people are masters in what they do, engineering people through a combination of influence and psychology to react in exactly the way publicity companies desire.
“How can this work?” I hear you ask. It works because people are curious. If they see something getting a lot of attention from other people, it’s only natural they’ll want to check it out too. It’s pretty much how memes go viral. The effect is even more profound in teenagers, who want to rebel against social norms and endorse these ultra-violent media. Basically, the more a product offends, the more eyes it will attract, and so the wider the audience it exposes itself too.
And this is exactly what I believe Trump to be doing. The more media attention he attracts, the more prospective voters will be aware of his presence as a presidential candidate. While it is unlikely that there are many people who don’t know about Trump and his bid for the White House, it can’t hurt to get more attention, can it?
The thing is, Donald Trump is a businessman at heart. He specialises in selling product and stock. Running for president of the USA is not the same thing. While Trump may have succeeded in getting a lot of media focus, he’s taking a big risk in only appealing to the previously mentioned majority. I think it’s safe to assume that, collectively, the minority voter groups form a bigger unit than the white male chunk, so in being so controversial, Trump may have cost himself many, many votes. Only time will tell how Trump’s endgame unravels as we move ever closer to the vote in November.