Thursday, January 01, 2009

Hey, We Thought Of That First!


Hamas has now started sending text messages to Israeli's cell phones.

This is a tactic fist used by the Israeli army in the 2006 Lebanon war. In the current Gaza campaign, Israel has been sending text messages to Gaza residents, warning them that if they live anywhere near a Hamas official, they should leave immediately or face the possibility of being bombed. A true humanitarian gesture, according to the IDF spokesperson, showing how careful the Israeli army is being to harm as few civilians as possible.

Not willing to be upstaged by the Israelis, Hamas has decided to be humanitarian too. It has started to send text messages to Israelis' cell phones. The messages warn of impending Hamas rocket attacks. Hamas operatives are, apparently very proud of there new found technological abilities. (Being humble, they didn't tout the humanitarian aspects.)

Spokesperson Abu Abir is quoted as saying:

"Telephone messages and breaching the enemy's radio frequencies are just some of the surprises we have for the Israeli side. You will be very surprised by our military and technological capabilities."

I think Hamas' new found technological savvy would be better served, however, if they had paid to have a decent Hebrew translator on staff. My best translation of the message shown above is:

"If rockets to all the cities not to defend you shelters, rockets qassams, Hamas."
The stuttering Hebrew makes it lose some of its intended effect, in my opinion. One hopes the Israeli army used better Arabic speakers to compose its messages.

It does occur to me though that there are several business opportunities here.

First, the phone companies charge for text messages, so they can now become war profiteers just like the ammunition and weapons manufacturers.

Second, someone has to provide the phone numbers. A perfect opportunity for the market intelligence / direct mail agencies. I wonder if Hamas or the IDF actually orders preferred demographics for this sort of thing ("We'd like phone numbers for 25 to 45 year old mothers of young children, living within 40 kilometers from the border") or if they just use a scatter gun approach. Give the cost of text messaging one wants to make sure that each message causes its maximum effect, and is not wasted on the 18 - 25 year old male, too cocky to take such messages seriously.

Third, what about translation and message crafting services. Not only does the message above lose some of its effect because of the broken Hebrew, it could use some skilled marketing polish as well. For instance, for maximum effect, the word "If" could be replaced by "When."

There's a fortune to be made here, I tell you !

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