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Eurovision 2017 viewers targeted in UK-Russia “information war”

Over the weekend, British newspaper The Guardian has revealed that the UK has been attempting to counter a “cold-war style information war” led by a “resurgent Russia”. Among these projects was the targeting of Eurovision viewers during this year’s contest in Kyiv, the capital city of British ally Ukraine.

Showing their power?

In recent months, Russian media has been accused of meddling in various referendums and elections around Europe and beyond. If this is the case, and Russia is doing so successfully, then it can be seen as the nation’s way of increasing its level of power and influence in the global arena.
In order to counter this so-called Russian attempt at an “infowar”, the UK has retaliated with various projects that they think will achieve this. One of these projects has been to “rehabilitate” Ukraine’s image, a country that an ally of the UK. To do this, the advertising agency M&C Saatchi was hired to run a campaign alongside the Foreign Office.

UK rehabilitates Ukraine’s image via Eurovision

One key part of this project was the exploitation of Kyiv’s hosting of the Eurovision Song Contest in May. During this time, viewers of the contest were targeted via mediums such as social media to show a positive image of Ukraine. Indeed, part of the wider brief was to “show that Ukraine is a viable and successful country – despite recent issues with Russia and the annexation of Crimea”. With Eurovision viewers naturally positive towards the host country of their beloved contest, they could be considered the perfect audience to successfully influence.

Not the only project

Outside of Eurovision, the other key project launched by the UK was to research how best to influence Russian-speaking minorities in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Overall, it is considered that current conflicts and situations within Ukraine and the Baltics are two of the biggest potential flashpoints that could elevate a so-called “cold-war style information war”.
Do you think Eurovision fans are “easy targets” when it comes to being targeted by advertising agencies with an agenda? Furthermore, do you think Eurovision could become involved again in future months and years? Let us know in the comments below!

Ryan Cobb

My first memory of watching the Eurovision Song Contest was back in 2001 and, over the years, my passion and enthusiasm for the contest has very much turned into an obsession. I adore music and I love geography, so this contest is a natural fit for me. If la la loving Eurovision was a crime, I'd certainly be a criminal!

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