Thursday, October 19, 2006

Negative campaigning, Venezuelan style 

It sure hasn’t taken long for the Venezuelan presidential campaign to go negative – both sides have launched some hard hitting attack ads. I thought it would be interesting to look at some of them.

First, in response to Chavez’s new campaign theme the Venezuelan opposition came out with a very clever rebuttal:

The “love letter” lists what it claims its reasons are for now longer wanting to love Chavez. It reads:


Eight years ago…

You won my heart,
with your promises you convinced me,
with our long stories you captivated,
and with your proposals you made me fall in love with you…

Based on lies I fell in love.
But during these past 8 years
I realized that you deceived me.

You didn’t give me security,
you didn’t give me a house to live in,
you didn’t give me confidence to create jobs,
you didn’t give me the chance to rise up from below.

You didn’t value my vote, nor my trust,
don’t ask me for more time,
don’t talk to me about love.

Clearly the opposition has some good and creative ad agencies – it is indeed a clever advertisement. Will it be effective though? I tend to doubt it. If Chavez’s administration had been one of failure it might. But the reality is most peoples lives have improved, the economy is booming, and a massive public works dot the landscape.

I doubt there are many who feel deceived by Chavez. . To those whom he promised much he has delivered much. Those who don’t love him now are almost always the same people who didn’t love him 8 years ago. And they, the middle and upper classes, are people who he never really tried to woo in the first place.

Of course, the pro-Chavez forces have responded with some negative ads of their own:

This ad highlights Rosales embracing the “Dictator for a Day” Pedro Carmona. Clearly the ad seeks to remind voters that Rosales has been tied to the anti-democratic opposition forces.

Mocking Rosales campaign slogan of “dare to” it reads”

Enough of dares.

They dared to carry out a coup on the 11th and 12th of April, 2002

They dared to eliminate the Bolivarian Constitution which had been approved by the people

They dared to kidnap President Chavez with the intent of killing him

They dared to sign a decree desolving State power

They dared to shoot against the people

“If they come as on the 11th, we will respond as we did on the 13th”

If they dare, they will regret it.

Again, a clever ad. Will it be effective? Again, I’m doubtful. Everyone knows that Rosales supported the coup and those that are upset about it aren’t likely to ever have considered voting for him to begin with.

In fact the most effective negative ads I have seen are probably these two:

They both attack Chavez where he is most vulnerable, on the issue of crime by referencing how many have been killed during his tenure. Moreover, they cleverly tie that into the color most associated with Chavez – red – when they say “enough of being red”. These ads ARE likely to have some effect.

BTW, note that all of these ads seem to be sponsored by groups apart from the actual Chavez and Rosales campaigns. I’m therefore not really sure if they are legal. That will be something interesting to look into.

Chavez, by being an incumbent with many a positive accomplishment, will likely realize that he is better off staying on the high road staying positive as he does with this ad:

How effective is all this advertising which is making some newspapers quite wealthy? We’ll find out come December 3rd.


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