Persuasive technology Tonga style

Tongan billboard: proud of king

This billboard was erected by the pro-democracy group in Tonga, on a crossroad near Tofoa. It's amazing. At first sight, it's a sycophantic licking of the royal boots. But look closer: it's an ingenious piece of marketing.

How do you persuade people to your democratic cause when criticising the king is against the law?

Why, you praise the king!

You give him credit for the democratic changes he promised at his coronation.

You remind him (and all citizens who pass by) that the world's eyes are upon him.

And in a sly twist, you patronise him: "We are proud of you." That's what teachers say to a class of five year olds.

It means: Well done, little one! So far so good. You've still got a long way to go, but this is a good start.

Or perhaps: Most people think a king's status is far above his subjects. But watch it: the king is our servant, ruling because the people permit this. For now...

Is this message Twitter length? Close, at 187 characters. Succinct, anyway.

King George V Icon to the globe and world history as the architect of peaceful political change. "G5 consent to Act 2008 for 2010 election under changed govt. system" We are proud of you.

P.S. I suspect "G5" is twitter or txt for "gave".)

Rachel McAlpine
Rachel McAlpine


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