The lesson of Vietnam and a health care ad

There’s a story I’ve read in a couple of different places that goes something like this:

After the Vietnam War, an American Colonel sat down with his North Vietnamese counterpart. The American in a fit of pride said the United States had never been beaten on the battlefield. The Vietnamese General nodded and answered calmly, “That is true. It is also irrelevant.” (Quoted from “The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century“)

I can’t help but think about that lesson when watching this ad: It’s not winning battles that counts it’s winning the war. Ads are like battles sometimes, you can win the battle of exchanges, but maybe it takes you off your central message or weakens you in some way or just takes time and energy away from winning the war.

I think this is a pretty good ad for it’s type, and one I’m not usually inclined to like. The whole idea of corporate greed, just doesn’t play well with me, it usually feels petty — unless you can link it in a real way to an issue or make it mean something. I think they do that by personalizing it with Nataline’s story — “[she] only needed one.”

That’s a good line, and gosh it makes me mad at those insurance companies, and I don’t like them…, wait, I didn’t really trust or like them before this ad. That’s kind of the point, the ad does make me dislike the insurance companies more, but I’m not sure it makes me more inclined to support health care reform.

If the health care reform side keeps winning battles like this, it won’t be long before it loses the war completely.

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