Epic fail


Here is Chávez’s latest campaign ad: un-singable jingle full of tired old clichés, worn-out rythms, and hysterical imagery.

It’s too bad for them, because the video starts off well, with images of Venezuelans of diverse background getting up in the morning. When you start noticing the large amount of words and the confusing rythms (is it a bachata? a reggaeton?), you being to wonder where this is going.

Then, Chávez appears on screen from his June 11th truck, with his bloated face, to the rythm of “Uh… Ah… Chávez no se va,” as the chorus of male singers confess their undying love to the Comandante.

Troubadors pledging their unending passion for a corpse. It’s all just so … weird. I can picture the meetings where this was decided: “let’s base the ad on Uh, Ah, Chavez no se va! It worked so well for us ten years ago…”

The ad is as old, bloated, and worn-out as the candidate it promotes. But, for all I know, it may well work. (HT: Lucía)

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  1. It really isn’t that bad. Oh, and isn’t it a good thing elections are decided on policies, records and manifestos? Sometimes it seems you bloggers think a good jingle is the key to victory.

    • In Venezuela, it’s as good as policies/records/manifestos. And what are those p/r/m of Chavez: Venezuela:Potencia/Soberana/Ecologica/BlaBla (Really HA HA) + a Record of Destruction of the Country.

  2. I guess they want to tug on the heart-strings of once-emotionally-attached-to-chavismo voters who may be glad to be getting handouts, but what to believe they *mean* something.

    But it’s just sort of a weird way to go about it: a bunch of Maná soundalikes singing a totally un-catchy tune and then laying on the syrup about love and rainbows.

    The part that I don’t get is how chavistas handle the cognitive dissonance between the Corazón Offensive and the fire-and-brimstone, insult-anyone-within-a-20-mile-redius rhetoric. These things just don’t mesh…

    • Do you think the average Chavista cares a whit about “cognitive dissonance”, even if he could begin to understand what it means???

        • “Cognitive Dissonance” presupposes in this case that the average Chavista responds emotionally or rationally to a perceived difference in a message of love vs. a message of violence. I repeat, he doesn’t give a whit about the difference in these two types of message, probably responds to them equally well, and does not see them as being antithetical.

          • Cognitive dissonance is solved by a process known as “Igualación cognitiva” (Sorry, studied in Venezuela).
            This means putting an explanation/justification above the dissonance to solve it: “Insulting people is violent and bad” / “I’m insulting people” / “But these fucking escuálidos tried to kill Chávez in 2002” !, etc.
            This helps understand why massive, social-scale dissonances (like the Hollocaust) are accepted by the people.

    • They probably don’t see one as conflicting with the other. People like it when their candidate or party ‘tells off’ their opponents because it’s justified and well-deserved (at least in their minds). You’ve got to remember you’re also dealing with an electorate that is ‘rough around the edges’ so even if the cognitive dissonance exists, they don’t view it as one.

    • It dawned on me the idea to make an experiment with this ad. I’ve played it with no sound to a bunch of friends who can stand watching Chavez and they’ve said the image sequences aren’t that bad. Girls dared to call it pretty. When played back with sound on then they all felt grossed out.

    • Yesterday, in Maracaibo, a convoy of cars and pickup trucks rode the streets to the tune of “You only have two options: either you join the ‘Caravana del Amor’ or get ready to leave Venezuela”.

    • The chavista tune IS catchy for the youngsters… it’s actually very similar to this recent latin american radio hit (it even has the UH AH stuff)

      • I’d agree though I’m no musicologist. The sounds seem similar to the chavista ad. Was one of the members of the band contacted to produce the chavista tune? As per the wiki on Sie7e, the members are from Colombia, and they are now going their separate ways to work on individual projects.

        What had me take notice of the Tengo tu love song was the use of ‘guagua’ to describe a VW van.

        Is ‘guagua’ used by countries other than you-know-what?

  3. The whole thing is a cliche-a-thon: The sunrise, the aerial shots, people looking at the camera, the rally imagery, etc. The only thing missing was the time-lapse shots which are now in almost all state propaganda. The song is a mess musically and the lyrics… Well, this makes LMFAO look like Stephen Sondheim. The ad creates an aura of unintentional creepiness all around…

    …but for hardcore Chavismo, this is perfect. What Chavez is going to run on anyway, his record?

    But the ad brings IMHO what could be a problem for Chavismo: the bases are not 100% behind this time. It’s not just the health of Chavez, it’s the simple fact that 14 years of rule is taking its toll even in some of the most convinced chavistas. This ad is the admission that Chavez has given up on trying to get undecideds and independents, focusing on holding up the bases instead…

        • That’s our future, Capybara, riding around in Ford Landaus (landau coñazo por todos lados) and Chevy Tovuels (To’ vueltos verga)

          Pa’lante con Chavez, carajo!
          Right off the cliff, mi pana………………

    • That’s a good point, Gustavo. Henrique is appealing to swing voters, while Chávez is defending his base. This spells trouble for the government.

    • I think the title for the Chavez commercial should be: “Masochists Of Venezuela Unite-If You Want Mas De Lo Mismo, Vote For Me.” And, really, how many Venezuelans truly want more of his Arroz Con Mango??

    • The Chavismo ad seems to be a ‘remember where you were when…’ type of ad which is trying to remind people just how cool Chavez was and how grand it all was. And ultimately it could work. People everywhere vote based on how they feel, any logic or truth is secondary. However the fact that it definitely is an ad that is targeted at the party base is telling.

  4. I agree it was oddly dissonant. Jamaican tourist board feel (or Sandals resorts?) with conspicuous displays of fanaticism and hero-cult-worship. Then when the old car and the oldies playing dominos showed up, I thought: Cuba!

    For some reason Cleopatra came to mind as well, Cleopatra on a truck, with jowls.

    Plus, my understanding is that most Caraquenos don’t look like that in the morning.

    I think the Cubans did it.

  5. Regarding the chavista political ad:

    0:15 Guy’s sudden smile is discordant with his eyes; there’s a mismatch.
    1:30 Rosinés looks bored, slightly disgusted. Later on in the video, and while still on the carroza, she won’t express any enthusiam whatsoever, unlike her older sister. What’s going on in Rosinés’ mind?
    1:45 An old cadillac from the 1950s gets washed. Hmmm, what subliminal tie-in does this evoke? Could it be … Cuba? Nahhhh, impossible!
    1:48 Old men playing dominoes. Could that subliminal tie-in be repeating itself?

    Mi-co-man-dante. Militarism entrenched.

  6. There’s a couple more things that stand out: 1) The ad is not so in-your face about Chavez, who first appears 50 seconds into the ad 2) It still has elements of patriotism/anti imperialism but the emphasis is on the emotional side and 3) Why is it they don’t show Chavez hugging people?? One could almost think the Chavez’s and the rally’s footage were taken at different times/places. The image of Chavez as a comeflor doesn’t make sense to me.

    Honestly, if I was Chavez I would get rid of Joao Santana, the Brasilian “Electoral Guru”. Chavistas have done much better ads in the past such as:

  7. That one is better. It also gives some reasons why one might vote for Chavez; redistribution and indigenous peoples’ rights, for example. The newer one rests on the idea that love for the flag, like love for Chavez, ” nunca va a cambiar.” Or so they hope.

  8. In my mind this is more to try to neutralize HCR’s themes more than anything. I think the concept of “Un nuevo amanecer en Venezuela” is incredibly strong. It lends itself to all sort of graphical tie-ins with the idea of a better future. In this video Chavistas are making sure the sunrise is not left uncontested to the enemy.

  9. I actually disagree rather strongly. I think (much to my chagrin) that the video is impeccably produced, the photography and imagery are powerful and the whole thing, while contrived and far-distant from the Venezuela we live in, is pure, unadulterated emotional saccharin. Worthy of noting are the repeated, deliberate shots of Elias Jaua to the right of Chavez, perhaps an explicit “espaldarazo” to his second-in-command leadership, (Cabello and Maduro are NOWHERE to be seen) and also a subtle nod to the LGBT community ( several shots of a GIANT rainbow flag). As far as what to take away from this, I mind the subtext more than the literal images: the production value of this spot, which is shot in film-quality format, and using carefully choreographed studio and live footage, is a loud and clear demonstration of HCH´s intentions to pour ENORMOUS amounts of resources into image and communications during this campaign. An intimidating “preemptive strike.” And although this is probably meant to compensate for the obvious lack of content in HCH´s campaign, I hope Comando Venezuela can keep up with all the bells and whistles… experience has shown me that these DO NOT come cheaply.

    • Loved your analysis, eduarte, but beg to disagree on the Diodado Cabello sightings:
      @ 1:20 through 1:21, @ 1:26 through 1:27, @ 2:09, @ 2:15 through 2:17, and increasingly indistinct @ 2:37 through 2:43. Seems like he’s the designated crowd animator.

      • Good catch! Thanks for that… although, you have to admit, Diosdado´s appearance is blink-and-you´ll-miss-it compared to Jaua´s prominent and frequent depictions next to El Jefe himself. Also, to Mr. Nagel, I believe the official musical genre is acoustic and up-tempo reggae, in the vein of Jason Mraz´ “I´m Yours,” or Train´s “Soul Sister” (Movistar´s current jingle) which, as you well point out, is very weird, if anything, because its GRINGO music. Maybe he´s going for the younger, hipper image this time around (nothing like youthful music to distract you from terminal illness…)?

        • yes, I agree, DC’s appearances are not so visible. His designated position in the caravana seems to be a slap in the face. As in “no te alces”, “pisa bajito”. What also intrigues is the re-appearance of the twins (?) on either side of the carroza; they’re the ones that, during the caravana of June 11th, were each carrying a briefcase, dangling same from either side. Also, is that the (Cuban) doctor (con camisa tipo polo) behind chavez, keeping an eagle eye on his patient?

    • I agree. I think this is probably quite effective. It could be even stronger, sure…but it does do a number of important things, like making Chavez seem inevitable, and equating pro-Venezuela with pro-Chavez.

      Notice this in conjunction with the C21 slides…specifically, think about the danger of assuming his illness will affect his support.

      • I don’t know how effective equating pro-Venezuela with pro-Chavez can be. There’s a real danger swing voters will be turned off by that kind of grandiosity and arrogance.

        • Well, that’s how you and I respond to this ad…but I think this goes a long way towards softening the things people like least about Chavez — bellicose, divisive, digging-up-Bolivar’s-bones crazy.

          It plays to his greatest strength — his connection to people.

          It’s not the best political ad ever…and it is not even the strongest ad Chavez could release…but I think it may be effective for voters who have supported Chavez in the past who are thinking of moving away from Chavismo.

        • Swing voters are swing voters precisely because they’re not really easily turned on or off by anything that you’d think is offensive in ths commercial — or appealing in HCR’s, for that matter. Parsing it down to pro-Venezuela + pro-Chavez = grandiosity and arrogance….I rather doubt it, JC.
          It’s a fabulous spot. Btw, that’s reggae, not regaeton by a mile. There’s a sweet-sad quality to it, in a way, an undertone of despedida, juxtaposing the uh-ah, no se va with him throwing (goodbye?) kisses… Really powerful, in my opinion.

    • I too agree with eduarte’s analysis.

      Very creepy though, the “Te Amo Chavez, Te Amo Mi Comandandte” I think that those phrases are going to end up turning off quite a few Ni Ni’s.

      As in, WTF, what I HAVE to LOVE this guy?

      This phrasing ups the creep and yecchhh factors quite a lot for those who are on the fence.

      • There are no Ni-Ni’s out there, Roberto.

        To take Keller’s figures, for example, the voting population breaks down into 25% oppo, 40% chavista and 35% independent. And what do those figures really mean? 25% of the population is pissed off enough about the state of the country and committed to ABC (anybody but Chávez, in this case HCR) that they’ll shout it from the rooftops. 35% says, hey, I don’t want any trouble, I don’t reallty care about politics, I don’t know who I’ll vote for — which is all bullshit. They’re not going to vote for Chávez, period, and many of them might not vote at all, but if they do they’ll vote for Capriles. And the 40% chavista segment is bloated.

        Telling a pollster you’ll vote for Chávez is the safest thing you can do in this country. The second safest is saying your an independent. I’d shave 5 to 10 points off that 40%, and say that’s what your real chavista vote looks like.

        Where it gets sticky is with the fingerprint machines hooked up to the voting machines. 3.5 million people have applied for housing from the government, and they’ve all had to get fingerprinted in the process. How is that voter going to vote when s/he goes up to the table to vote (no private voting booths here), and asks herself if her vote’s really secret.

        The fingerprint-cum-voting machine combo is Chavez’s not-so-secret weapon in this campaign, and it could swing him enough votes to win, regardless of lo que dice la calle. Why the hell Capriles isn’t raising hellabout it, and taking it to the IAHRC, the OAS, the whole goddam world, as a violation of the basic right to the secrecy of the vote is beyond me. My guess is that he’s been lulled into complacency by the nasty little fifth column (Enrique Marquez, Vicente Bello, Felix Arroyo and Mario Torre) working in the MUD’s technical commission.

        • Right on. The other fear may be losing Mercal, which is not exactly a Mision, and, I believe, has not been directly promised to be maintained by Capriles, as have the Misiones. I also believe that at best the non-fearful/non-coerced/non-outright-bought popular vote for Chavez is at best 30%.

        • I don’t think that polarization is that extreme, Eric, that you can assert there are no fence sitters out there. Today, there are probably 10%-15% out there that fit the definition of NiNi.

          I agree with your analysis, especially as regards the fingerprint machines. However, Capriles can and is fighting back by stating the misiones will continue, albeit without discrimination since it seems that in many cases everybody is equal just that some are more equal than others.

          Continuance of many of this regimes policies is one way to assuage fear of change among the population that counts on the various subsidies and handouts to supplement their economic intake. You and I may not like it, but most of the Misiones involving housing, health, food and education are going to continue until we learn self sufficiency in about at least a decade. Just pray that oil remains above $40/ barrel until we get there.

        • Eric,

          Making the voters believe that the government knows who they voted for is just another of the many tricks up Chavez’s sleeve.It is just incredible the sheer amount of dirty tricks designed to assure Chavez’s reelection.You can see that for Chavismo not staying in power is practically inconceivable and they are willing to do whatever it takes.

          Does the opposition have the same resolve?

    • Do production values trump day-to-day living trials/tribulations? I don’t think so. What could help trump them is the fear of losing Misiones/ government employment/etc., and in this sense this commercial promising “Mas de lo Mismo” might work. Against this is the insecurity of daily living/lack of decent employment opportunities/discrimination by class-political affiliation/confiscation of private property/unfulfilled promises/etc., most of which are addressed by Capriles in his commercial and his speeches.

    • Carolina,I think the video emphasizes Chavismo over Chavez….and they did that very well.If we were to see more personal interaction on the part of Chavez this would not happen

  10. I think they are targetting masochist. “Chavez, yo quiero más!!” I am sure many a dirty joke can come from that line. Please send your proposals to El Chiguiere

  11. I thought it was well-done. Propaganda- yes- but well done propaganda. Scarily well done. I am not a Thugo fan, but I got chills down my back in the middle when there were shouts of “Chavez” then the “Uh ah.. no se va.” If an intellectualizing Yanqui gets this reaction, then think of what the reaction of emotional Chavistas who do not read political blogs?

    This was not an ad to convince the ninis, but one to rally the base. Which I predict it can do.

    I also found the inclusion of the old car – looks like a 1951 Chevy- rather Cuban. How hard did the ad makers have to look to find such an old car? Did they ship it in from Cuba? Or was the car part filmed in Cuba?

    • “I also found the inclusion of the old car – looks like a 1951 Chevy- rather Cuban. How hard did the ad makers have to look to find such an old car? Did they ship it in from Cuba? Or was the car part filmed in Cuba?”

      No need, there are plenty in Venezuela still. Wait another 20 years and all those Ford Mavericks, Chevy Novas and Dodge Darts still running will produce the same nostalgia as that Chevy

      • I don’t think that “there are plenty in Venezuela still” is an accurate depiction of the Venezuelan car market. Yes, there are cars of every age, but not that I see a lot of ’51 Chevys or Fords or whatever in the street. Even Mavericks, Novas and Darts are becoming a rarity

          • Rapiditos in Barquisimeto are not much better. When I got the chance, I’ll post some pictures.

          • Jesus, what do those things get? 8 mpg if they’re lucky? They were already gas hogs when they were new! I have a question: What does it cost in Venezuela to fill up one of those beasts? Here in Honduras we’re at about $5.15 a gallon so taxis tend to be small Corollas or if pressed 30-year old Isuzu I-Marks. Cant imagine using a Maverick with its ecological V8 as a cab.

          • At the official exchange rate is $0.18 per gallon ($0.05 per liter), but at the parallel rate is around half of that. You don’t have to be a genius to see why some people still drives these cars.

          • In that case, makes total sense. Drive them until the wheels fall off. And once they do, put some new ones on and drive around some more. That video must be every ecologist’s nightmare.

        • Yeah, Maracaibo is full of Chevy Novas, Mavericks, old Malibus and Caprices, Fairmonts, Fairlanes, LTD’s and the often overlooked Dodge Dart. Don’t mistake Caracas for the country…

      • When I was in Venezuela in the late 1970s, I didn’t recall seeing ~30 year old cars, as a circa 1951 Chevy would have been then. At least they didn’t stay in my memory bank. The cars seemed fairly contemporary [60s and 70s], which would be congruent with the oil boom of the era and with your talking of seeing a lot of Ford Mavericks etc nowadays.

        On the other hand, I recall seeing 1936 Chevy in Bogota around the same time- over 40 years on the road. I could identify it from family photos taken in the early 1950s.

        Granted, I never knew Venezuela’s urban barrios. Perhaps it was and is not that hard to find a ~1951 Chevy in Petare.

  12. It begins well. Love my country, love the people, love everyone. Then begins the “I will always love you Hugo no matter what you do!!!” theme, and the inevitable monochromatic character of Hugo’s meetings (personalistic movement that chavismo is after all), you would say that it tries to look like some earlier Capriles ads in tone. Note that it has not an ounce of Chavez’s personal style, he says nothing (what could he say?) though he does figure of course. Then it wanders into the Cuban tourist board ad territory and gets creepy, at least for us who know that Cubans have those cars to drive and little chance to get into the plane flying overhead. Again love for your country and people, love infinite and unconditionally. Then back into the red meeting and Hugo who is to be loved forever and stay forever. Only the emotional message: Love your country above all else, love Huguito above all else.

    Then, the new Capriles ad does what it all right. To me. Maybe it’s still too cerebral, maybe it’s not. But I like it very much that he addresses the audience assertively and shows accomplishments. No triumphalism or personalism about it, lots of personal touch though. The guy really heeded the advice: show you are very different from the other guy.

    Uneducated guess: If chavismo is trying to change tone to try and adapt it’s personality cult to the earlier ads of the majunche who couldn’t possibly do them harm, it’s because the majunche is seriously ripping into them.


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