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The importance of an event: May 9th for Russia

The importance of an event: May 9th for Russia

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You know that we like few things more than analysing the impact and the strength of an event... even if it is for a more than debatable cause. Specifically, today, we see the impact of an event that is in all the newspapers: the celebration of May 9th in Moscow to feed the sick nationalism of Mr Putin. A disgusting cause… but an illustration of several of the dimensions of what an event can entail. We hold our noses and go to the analysis. By Eric Mottard

The celebration of the identity of a people, its strength, its history

The celebration of the Russian victory against the Third Reich began as soon as the war ended, according to this exciting article in The Economist, temple of journalism. Since 1945, Stalin organized a great parade full of symbolic elements, such as exposing items stolen from the Nazis, or his military chief parading on a white horse, in an almost mystical image (let’s not forget that an event is about staging a message). Although this celebration has not been organized continuously, it has returned since 2008 to be done every year with more importance than ever.

A show of force

As a company builds a huge booth in a trade fair to show off its might, a parade is an opportunity to show off the strength of a country. This is why Putin, obsessed with the show of force, eventually added a demonstration of his arsenal, when previously it was just a parade of soldiers. Think about this: everyone can learn about the Russian arsenal by looking for the information… but showcasing this arsenal, creating the image of an overwhelming number of weapons, is a much more impressive way to flex muscle than publishing this list in the press.

The tribute

It was born as a spontaneous initiative of groups of relatives of soldiers, but the Russian government has quickly co-opted the “immortal regiment” movement that remembered those who fell in combat. It is another key value of the event: the tribute, the recognition of the heroes, which ultimately constitute a very powerful element of cohesion for any human group. A company recognizes its best salespeople or its longest-serving employees… because taking concrete human examples is the best thing to do.

The difficulty of controlling an event, and the risks of live actions

As the article explains, Stalin did not like the celebration, due to the signs of affection for the American soldiers that spontaneously arose. We see here another characteristic of events: they are held live, with participants who cannot be fully controlled, and unforeseen moments can arise. Event are risky by nature. Another risk factor is the technical problem, like when the new T14 Armata tank that was shown at the parade in 2015, was left idle for 15 minutes. You have a technical problem… and the show of power remains in a botched message.

The date of the event, a way to force the fulfillment of objectives

It is perhaps the most tragic dimension of this parade. As certain companies tell us that communicating a product presentation date is an effective way to ensure that the deadline is met and avoid delays, Putin has -apparently- set May 9th as the date on which to announce a victory. The tragic result has been an intensification of attacks in eastern Ukraine with immense pain caused to the civilian population. It remains to be seen what victory the man from the Kremlin heralds, but no doubt the date will have put pressure on the army to achieve victories.

This is not a frivolous article and we don’t pretend what is done at a company event and the horror of Ukraine are the same in any way. We just observe once again how events are an incredibly powerful tool. Even if it’s for the worst of goals. Strength, and victory, to Ukraine.

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