PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Peace effort only looked good on paper

"Make love, not war" is perhaps the anti-battle strategy.

"Make love, not war" is perhaps the anti-battle strategy.

And, at first glance, it seemed like a noble gesture from the Thai government to stop a vicious cycle of violence. With more than 500 deaths attributed to Islamic separatist attacks this year alone, the Buddhist government decided to pursue a different course than their usual "crush, kill, destroy" methods. They used 100 million paper birds. Schoolchildren, housewives, and patriotic citizens across Asia were encouraged to spend two weeks folding origami cranes, a national symbol of peace. Then, last Sunday, officials loaded millions and millions of these delicately assembled birds onto 50 warplanes, flew them over the country's embattled southern provinces, and bombarded the countryside with flying cranes. This is what you get for going to war with Buddhists. The murderous rebels were expected to fall to their knees and drop their weapons after such a heartfelt display of government goodwill. Instead, the AP reported that "bombings, shootings, and arson attacks came hours after Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said Sunday's airdrop... had achieved an 'enormous, positive psychological effect' toward peace." Not exactly the response the government was hoping for. In the separatists' defense, though: How would you feel if someone dropped 100 millions birds on your head? Warplanes are warplanes, even if they're only carrying sappy messages. The sentiment was admirable, but the effort was misguided. Peace is won through concrete action, not grand gestures. Next time, try dropping $100 bills. The origami can be optional.
  • Hamilton Nolan wrote this issue's PR Play of the Week. He is a NY-based reporter for PRWeek. Ratings: 1. Clueless 2. Ill-advised 3. On the right track 4. Savvy 5. Ingenious

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