Thursday, April 11, 2013

Political Power: Ads That Toppled a Dictator

If you doubt the power of astute political marketing, you need to see the Oscar-nominated film about the "No" ad campaign that led to the ouster of Chile's General Augusto Pinochet and his violent military regime. A recent Direct Marketing News article -- titled "Best Political Marketing Campaign Ever?" -- calls attention to that story. Although the film can be criticized as a fictionalization rather than a documentary of the campaign, anyone in the business of marketing a candidate or a cause may find its tale, including actual ad footage, instructive. The event that inspired the movie occurred in 1988, when Pinochet bowed to international pressure after 15 years of oppressive rule and agreed to hold a plebiscite vote on the legitimacy of his power. Each side was allowed 15 minutes of free airtime a day to make the case for or against the Pinochet junta. Pro-Pinochet ads focused on fear (including fear of Marxist enemies), while the "No" campaign used a rainbow logo, upbeat images and music, and the tagline “Chile, happiness is coming!” The anti-Pinochet campaign ending up winning 56% of the vote. Of course, more was involved than advertising to accomplish this bloodless coup, but even jaded marketers may find inspiration in the power of positive political branding. For more, see the article at

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