Intangibles 2016 Election

Why is it that more U.S. citizens are not exhibiting higher levels of anger and resentment…regarding the allegations that a Russian firm based in St. Petersburg, ala the Internet Research Agency, endeavored to manipulate the 2016 political campaign, presumably, at the behest of high government officials?

U.S. polling on this matter…suggests high percentages of Americans, variously along political party lines, believe Russian entities did precisely what has been alleged for the past 15+ months, and, as of last week, produced criminal indictments against 13+ Russians citizens by the U.S. Special Prosecutor.

Meddling with a U.S. election to favor a particular candidate and/or party, is sacrosanct to this, still relatively young democracy and sustaining this republic….respectfully though, I sense many citizens may not share convictions related to ‘the how’ part with respect to ‘the meddling’.

I suspect, one factor contributing to a relatively lethargic public outcry…may variously be due to ‘thought fatigue’ produced by hourly-daily issues emitted from and by the current administration.  In other words, a percentage of U.S. citizens may, understandably, find it challenging to translate the allegations of subliminal election manipulation to conscious decisions at the polls.

Perhaps a good place to start this discussion…lies in describing my profession as an intangible asset strategist and risk specialist. Intangible assets (IA’s) are variously comprised of intellectual, relationship, and structural capital.  Intangible assets also include ‘perceptions’ that people may acquire – develop about certain tangible events, acts, circumstances, and motives, etc., which we may be exposed, with greater frequency, through media platforms of choice.

For example, a restaurant that we have been encouraged by friends to…dine, may result in quite different perceptions, i.e., the service was poor, the wait staff were inexperienced, the wait time between ordering – receiving our meal (in the conventional sequence) was far too long, and the food quality-taste fell below our expectations, etc. All, or anyone of these circumstances (tangible, intangible) affect how and what we perceive about the restaurant. The intangibles associated with our perceptions, in this instance, may produce tangible outcomes, i.e., fewer people selecting this restaurant to dine.

Another example is, since 1976 when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the legal, and other professions…greater latitude – beyond their respective (conventional) canons, to engage in media advertising regarding their services. For the most part, these changes stemmed from Bates v. State Bar of Arizona.

Insofar as how radio-social-television media advertising favorably manifested this to…the legal profession, as one example, presumably, there were many citizens who did not recognize (understand, appreciate) the various mishaps, injuries, and/or circumstances they may incur – be exposed to could be grounds for bringing civil actions and/or criminal actions (law suits) against an offending – negligent party in which the ‘winner’ could receive substantial remuneration.

Similar perceptions hold true as other professions, i.e., physicians and pharmaceutical companies commenced their style (brand) of advertising to the public…but, their respective messages generally consisted of…

  • being designed – intended to alert citizens to variously self-diagnose personal circumstances and/or health challenges which perhaps they were previously unaware and/or unfamiliar.
  • encouraging same to make a personal inquiry, i.e., ‘callers are now available to take your call and answer your questions’, etc., to potentially obtain (purchase) the advertised relief.

So, another avenue for characterizing the alleged ‘election meddling’ by Russians, stems 25+ years of being professionally engaged in the study, investigation, tracking, monitoring, assessing, and writing about matters related to economic espionage.

Very simply, economic espionage occurs when foreign economic – competitive advantage, and/or national security adversaries engage in…spurious operations and activities designed to acquire business-economic intelligence developed – owned by U.S. companies and apply same as their own, thereby foregoing the extraordinary (underlying) and time-consuming costs associated with conducting research and development (R&D).

To be sure, numerous government (intelligence community) agencies…and the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) are engaged in countering and investigating economic espionage, the perpetrators of which included nation state agencies, small companies known euphemistically as ‘information brokers’, as well as a multitude of ‘legacy free players’ globally.

Each has been variously effective…their objectives were often both tactical (near term) and strategic (long term), that is, not merely to acquire a single trade secret (intellectual property) and ‘fold up their tent’ and retreat, instead, awaiting other opportunities or assignments from their clients!

Based on my varied and first-hand experiences in these arenas…which was primarily focused on university-based research being the target, I found the ‘starting points’ for acts of economic espionage to materialize, were far less dependent on conventional perspectives of ‘cloak and dagger’ stealth. Instead, the perpetrators variously preyed upon and exploited individual’s gullibility, naiveté, and arrogance, not in frequently exhibited – offered willingly by the people being targeted, i.e., collect their intellectual and structural capital developed-held by knowledgeable researchers, scientists, and/or c-suites.

Robert Mueller’s appointment as special prosecutor…to investigate, presumably, whether election meddling and/or collusion existed between U.S. administration officials (pre-post 2016 national election) and Russian counterparts who allegedly sought to manipulate U.S. voter perceptions and thereby – sway the election.

Throughout the election meddling (allegation) process…I have heard – conversed with countless individuals, some who vociferously exhibit their inclination to characterize the allegations as if Russian operatives (boogey men) actually-appeared on U.S. soil on or before election day, at polling places and elsewhere to influence U.S. citizens, by

  • dissuading – persuading large number to cast their vote for the political party and candidate the operatives preferred or represented.

The fact of the matter is, U.S. citizens can, and often are swayed by advertising…irrespective of the vagaries of its content and/or the message it endeavors to convey. There is ample evidence that the intended and targeted audience of particular-advertising will deliver the desired – intended outcomes, otherwise, why do U.S. companies have advertising spend budgets in the billions of dollars annually?

  • Its because there is a predictable return-on-investment (ROI)…in other words, many citizens will be inclined to believe what they see, hear, or read, irrespective of the (perceived) source or its truthfulness, and will act accordingly, i.e., intellectually, emotionally, and/or financially.

So, when citizens hear, read, or see certain information (advertisements)…which have been carefully crafted to dramatize and/or favorably bend the issues’ context at the fringes of misleading and/or misrepresenting reality, there will, to be sure, a percentage of ‘buy ins’.

  • True, some citizens are predisposed to…believe, for various reasons, and therefore are receptive to information and perspectives they purposefully seek or merely comes before them. That’s not a statement of disrespect or contempt, rather a reality of social, psychological, and political opinionation.

Should we not assume the indicted (Russian) employees of the Internet Research Agency…in St. Petersburg knew precisely what they were doing and how to achieve their objectives, i.e., creating disruption, divisiveness, and questions regarding the U.S. 2016 national election?

One way for citizens to translate this, is to objectively dissect…each of the network evening news broadcasts and…

  • note what companies and/or products are being advertised during commercial breaks.
  • be cognizant of the carefully scripted language and visuals applied, and
  • how each is intended to encourage viewers to apply the commercial’s message to their circumstance, inquire about, and preferably buy the product and/or service being advertised.

While these commercials may seem innocuous and harmless…because, after all, viewers may or may not elect to pursue the product or service, right?  But, when one is exposed to these persuasive visuals – language repeatedly, as representing truth and reality, they may materialize as one’s ‘truth and reality’, and there lie the distinctions.

Michael D. Moberly February 26, 2018 St. Louis [email protected]  ‘The Business Intangible Asset Blog’  since May 2006, where one’s attention span, intangible assets, and solutions converge!

Readers are invited to explore other posts, papers, and books I have published at

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