by Scott Berinato

Marketing the Homeland Security Brand

Jan 01, 20032 mins
Consumer Electronics

Never underestimate the marketing profession’s willingness to try and shake loose-change from the pockets of the sacred. The latest evidence: Homeland Security, the brand, which we will only see more of in 2003.

The brand has already turned up on doormats and casino tokens, and on Woolrich’s Homeland Blanket (above), a star-spangled throw that touts as a “patriotic tribute to freedom.” The blended wool (84 percent) and nylon blanket promises to “keep you and your spouse cozy and warm when threats to our security put a chill in the air.” Just $129.

In the IT world, technology vendors are wrapping themselves in their own homeland security blanket to ward off the chill of the down economy. Siebel is pitching “terrorist relationship management” software called Siebel Homeland Security. In a company white paper, Siebel suggests that its software could have helped mitigate the 9/11 and anthrax attacks. Under a section labeled Prevention, the 9/11 case study concludes that “using the automated workflow capabilities of the Siebel solution, an agent could have swiftly alerted other agencies and law enforcement authorities to take appropriate actions.”

PeopleSoft has announced two homeland security products?one that tracks foreign students and one that manages emergency response. Both Dell and Hewlett-Packard have set up Homeland Security websites, with Dell’s featuring an American flag in the top-left corner. At Computer Science Corp., the company has made its vice president of homeland security available to the press to answer the question, Where is the homeland security boom so many have promised?

Technology pundits have called this boom a $9.5 billion market, and many tech companies have launched homeland security initiatives?not to partner with the government but to sell to it.

“It’s not surprising at all that [vendors are] trading on people’s fears,” says Alex Molnar, a marketing expert and professor of education policy at Arizona State University. “That’s the whole idea of marketing?to make you afraid. In this case, [the fear is] that you’re not patriotic if you don’t buy something.”

At the very least, a red-white-and-blue throw.