A Positive Chile Emerges From “NO”
Coincidental to our recent study abroad experience in Santiago, the film “NO” (2012) was recently released into a few theaters in the Chicago area. The film is based on the unpublished play El Plebiscito, written by Antonio Skármeta and was directed by Pablo Larrain. (Here is the trailer for the film.) It tells the fascinating story of Chile in the last days of the Pinochet regime. The military dictator of 15 years is pressured to call a referendum. He thinks, of course, that he will win easily.
The perspective of the film is from the viewpoint of a small group of oppositionists who convince an advertising creative to serve as their consultant. The “NO-vote” party has been allotted 15 minutes of television time late each night during 27 days prior to the election to tell their story. The question is what content should be aired. The witty twist on this political drama cannot be lost on U.S. audiences in the context of the media blitz we experience in our own prolonged national election process.
Beyond the political, it is an intriguing marketing story. The rebels want to use their television minutes to expose the atrocities of the Pinochet era and rail against repression. They do not expect to win the majority, but want to make a statement. Rene, the advertising creative, argues for a different tact — he insists on a positive message of hope and change with the slogan “Happiness is Coming.”
I agree with some critics who complain that the film simplifies a complex political environment and may give the impression that it was only the television messaging that won the referendum for the “NO” contingent. As a citizen, I encourage political involvement based upon principles and honest negotiations. And as a Marketer, however, I believe that these guiding principles can be distilled effectively into shorter messages that can stimulate conversations, rather than squelch them. In this case, in the end we can agree that a peaceful, prosperous Chile that we visited in early March emerged from this unsavory political drama.