Sun Tzu constantly discusses the reality of comparison. Nothing is "good" or "bad," in itself. Things are good or bad in comparison to something else. You are "tall" because others are "short." If you want to appear tall, stand next to people that are shorter than you. Movies use this trick all the time. Tom Cruise is very short yet appears tall on screen because of tricks in photography and putting him in taller shoes and on platforms. He appears tall on screen because we compare him to those around him. If you have ever bought a child's toy you will have noticed that on the box the toy appears huge. When you open it, it's small. I once considered a small jungle gym for the yard. It's one of those inflatable toys that can be erected for weekends. On the box it shows a few kids playing on it along with an adult standing nearby. It appeared that at least four kids could play on it. When I got it home and inflated it, I was lucky to get two kids on it. I guess the kids in the picture were uncommonly small and the adult was probably only about 5-feet tall.
So, what does this have to do with strategy? The ad was classical deception. Sun Tzu says that war is one thing - deception. The toy looked big because it had small people playing on it. Big and small exist because of one another. Without the small there is no big. While reading the political blogs I noticed that several news agencies were discussing how "centrist" President-elect Obama appears. My brain instantly rejected this notion since his factual voting record in the senate is one of the most liberal. I began to think about how people could possibly consider him a centrist.
Here is how it works and you can use the same strategy. Obama has effectively managed to get himself compared to extreme leftists which makes him appear reasonable and centrist. The media doesn't compare him to other members of congress or the senate, they compare him to people outside of Washington that are demanding very liberal legislation. By comparison, he is centrist.
If you want to appear bigger, smaller, richer, or poorer in your position, be seen with the extreme opposite. Usually, we compare ourselves to our colleagues and close competitors. Change this to be seen with competitors that make you look good. This is not new, but often forgotten or not exploited. If you have an expensive product, place it with products much more expensive. If you're looking for a job, highlight one area of your experience that, by comparison, is outstanding. Work to eliminate any comparison that is equal or even close. Examine the competition for any extreme and then place your company or product next to it so you appear cheaper, better, faster, or more qualified.
Remember, you can grow bigger by standing near shorter people, and you can be younger by standing near older people. You can make yourself better, faster, taller, skinnier, and more beautiful with strategy. Use deception, allow people to see what they want to see.