How joy defeated hate

General Augusto Pinochet watching US-made F-16 fighter bombers flying over El Bosque air base, 1988 Photo: GETTY IMAGES

What brought down Pinochet? Not hate, but the prospect of joy, according to the ad men that orchestrated the campaign that destroyed him:

“By its very nature, ‘no’ was a negative concept; it was very difficult to sell,” says García, now 60 and still living and working in Santiago. “‘No’ was not a person, not a candidate. It had no personality, no ethics, no aesthetics.” So García’s first job was to create a “product” which would have mass-market appeal. What message, his team asked themselves, would unite Chileans, both young and old? Something that would both reassure and fire up the voters? They tossed ideas around. There was a temptation, of course, to go with a hard-hitting campaign – featuring footage of executions, political arrests and police violence – to remind voters of Pinochet’s many crimes.

But the ad men knew that wouldn’t “sell”. However deep the hatred, you didn’t fight negativity with negativity. Instead they needed something upbeat and optimistic that would galvanise the nation; something hopeful to contrast with the fear and oppression of the ruling junta.

What we need to convey, García said, looking up at a deep blue sky, is the feeling you have when black clouds part and the sun finally breaks through. What is that word? And then he answered his own question: “La alegría!” Joy! That was the slogan: “Chile, la alegría ya viene” Chile, joy is coming.

Read the piece here.

How joy defeated hate