There is an election brewing in Chile. I am not 100% on when it is going to be, probably in the next couple of weeks, but if my review of election advertising is anything to go by, a bloke called Pinera is going to romp home into the presidency.
This is even despite the fact one of his ever present posters fell off a lamp post and brained some poor passing girl. The Carabinieri were taking notes and looking good in their shades as we passed by and the girl held a hanky to her bleeding head. The way the communications are handled out there is completely at odds with how we would do it at home so it has been really interesting to tour the country while this is going on.
There are five main candidates as far as I can tell
- Arrate – at least 80 and looks every day of it. Possibly a communist.
- Frei – he's got a good logo. Looks a bit evil. Kisses babies. Expect he will come second
- Pinera – just like the Samurai who can tell the arrow will hit before the bow string leaves his hand, Pinera has won and he knows it.
- An early middle age guy who is trying to grow a beard. I think I may have actually walked past him in Santiago. He had a minder and was wearing shades. 5% of the vote max.
- Some young bloke just out of school by the looks of things (only saw him on the last day), maybe going for the tween vote. Lustrous hair just like a boyband.
The whole thing seems almost entirely personality based. Every single ad is a variation on a head and shoulders shot of the candidate, their logo and possibly also their campaign slogan, which is invariably something terribly general like “together a better society” or "national renewal". However for the most part they don't even bother with that, and I'm sure it's not because they have a particularly moody art director on the project.
So there are posters of people's faces up everywhere and names painted up on the walls all over the town and countryside. I suspect it is something to do with building familiarity as without a clear two party system, I imagine elections are based around lots of different people you have never heard of. If you can be the name most familiar to people as the enter the polling booth you are likely to get an 'x'.
I couldn't quite work out if there were a lot of celebrity endorsements going on, at least they looked like they could be celebrities. One of them, who seemed to be everywhere it turned out was the reigning president, who is legally barred from standing again, as 4 years is now the maximum term. She seemed to be supporting everyone who was standing as deputy.
Very strange. Also, there must be a really confusing mix of party affiliations, Pinera in particular has got his mug up with all sorts of different candidates. I wonder if it is the political version of Intel advertising where he pays for part of the ads as long as his face can go up there. Pinera clearly spending a fortune which more than anything else suggests to me that he's going to win. I guess with politics more than anything you end up in a virtuous or vicious circle: people think you're going to win, so you get more funding, so you run more ads and do more promotions, so people think you're going to win...