Growing up I had a limited interest in Romanian medieval history, especially since they made us remember the exact dates of the reign of this or that king. What stuck with me was the story of Vlad the Impaler and his test for thieves and also a custom of most all Romanian kings (also to be found in legends and fairy tales): mystery shopping. Basically, kings would dress up as peasants and mingle with traders and craftsmen, drink it up in pubs with travelers from all regions and come back with insights on how the country was faring. The trick to this was to dress as peasantly as possible, to rough it, to have as few noblemen with you as possible, etc etc: basically the essentials of mystery shopping.
As we grow more civilized and, ostensibly, wiser the whole "checking in" with the masses by politicians has become dumber and dumber. The essential of a "immersion" these days is having as many journalists as you can with you, riding in in huge black Mercedes cars and basically introducing themselves as "the mayor, the MP, the minister" to everyone. This means that the "mingling" has changed objective: from gathering insights, to getting exposure. It relies therefore on the assumption that ordinary people will be appreciative of "personal appearances", whereas in the case of mystery shopping, personal makes it ineffective.
Do I have a point? I think immersion should be used to get insight and not popularity. Popularity comes after insight, there is a linear relationship between all of these and TV stations need to stop wasting money on filming politicians in market places.
communication is essential to business making and it involves more than the ability to name your product, write a tag line or a press release. It's an intricate, rational and scalable effort and, let's face it, not anyone can do it.