Here’s an interesting example of pre-planned visual communication. In fact, I believe that corporate communicators all too often miss out on investigating photo (or video) opportunities when drafting events. While hours or even days may be spent on fine-tuning individual formulations in e.g. a CEO’s speech or a press release, the potential visual impact that might be created is often hardly discussed at all.
So, PM Reinfeld, or his advisors, have definitely given this aspect some thought (while I heard from a Swedish journalist this morning that he’s actually been applying this “boat thing” a couple of times before). And, from one side, it absolutely worked: the picture is all over the place, hardly any media coverage of the meeting comes without it.
On the other hand I can’t help wondering about the various interpretations of the – omnipresent – “boat metaphor”. I assume one of the intended messages was “we’re all in the same boat”; and, as a subtle win for Reinfeld, he even seems to be “rowing this little boat”. Yet where does this lead to if the people in this very boat eventually fail to come to a joint conclusion; don’t reach any “shore” at the end of the day?
Another one springing to mind is “the sinking ship” – an association not totally unlikely to be made by many in conjunction with the EU in its current state – yet much less likely to have been intended by Reinfeld’s team. (This reminds me of the then-leader of the Green party, Jürgen Trittin, in the previous German election campain capsizing in front of the TV cameras, sending an unwanted yet very impactful emotional message).
Also, when thinking about boats, the notion of storm is always close by. Should those four people (seem to) be enjyoing the calm before the storm?
So, while using visual language is a highly impactul means of communication, the risk that comes with lateral meaning should not be underestimated.