It took two months for Ukrainian officials to acknowledge that the story was a myth. “Kiev’s ghost is a superhero legend whose character was created by Ukrainians,” said the Ukrainian Air Force Command. Facebook April 30th. “Please do not fill the info forum with fakes!”
The ghost from Kyiv was an early lesson for Ukrainian officials, says Laura Edelson, a computer scientist at New York University who researches political communication. ‘I think they withdrew to that kind of thing. When you talk to Western Europe and North America, you have to be perceived as credible, ”she says. “There was a turning point from telling the story of this mythical fighter pilot to telling the stories of ordinary Ukrainians.”
Ukrainian propaganda must speak to several target groups: the Ukrainians themselves, the English-speaking world and also people inside Russia. Domestically, morale is crucial to the country’s success in a brutal war. People need to feel like they are defending more than just their piece of land, Edelson says. “You have to defend your common identity. You have to defend your self-esteem,” she adds.
Encouraging resistance will become more crucial if Russia tries referendums in occupied territories, says Paul Baines, professor of political marketing at the University of Leicester’s School of Business. “This is a way of trying to ensure that people in these areas do not vote in the fake referendums,” he says of Ukraine’s communication strategy. In late April, Fedorov posted a video on Telegram combining Banda’s campaign branding with footage showing the city of Kherson, then occupied by Russia. “In Kherson, the residents are going to a meeting again to explain to the occupiers that there will be no ‘referendums,'” Federov wrote. “Thank you for your courage.”
But domestic communication must also be in line with international messages: that if Ukraine had better weapons, it could beat Russia, and that democracy in Europe depends on the country’s success. “Financing depends on [the information war]sanctions depend on it, ”said Jon Roozenbeek, a misinformation researcher at the University of Cambridge.
That’s why the Banda’s mod campaign was pushed around the world, with the English ads swapping the word courage for the word bravery. The word bravery, in Banda’s font and flanked by blue and yellow, has been shown in New York’s Times Square and was it background to a speech given by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in May.
Since Banda’s campaign was launched, the idea of everyday heroism as a moral booster has become commonplace in Ukraine, with Members of Parliament and civil society groups repeating the message. “Each volunteer project has its own mission and goals, but everyone tells the stories of how Ukrainians fight, giving other examples and inspiring them to join the fight or keep fighting,” said Nataliia Mykolska, co-founder of Data Battalion. an open source database that collects images and videos of Russian aggression.
“I do not think Ukraine will win this war solely on the basis of the campaign of bravery, very far from it,” Baines said. “But it’s part of the puzzle of how to ensure that the West continues to give them weapons and ensure that their own people resist Russian efforts to conquer their sovereignty.”