The social media marketing campaign that propelled a 77-year-old development magnate into Colombia’s presidential runoff intentionally cultivated his picture as an anti-politician to faucet voter anger…
The social media marketing campaign that propelled a 77-year-old development magnate into Colombia’s presidential runoff intentionally cultivated his picture as an anti-politician to faucet voter anger in opposition to the political class, in accordance with the strategist who helped devise it.
Rodolfo Hernandez, who’s now refusing to participate in debates and has shunned election rallies, used common social media posts to beat a sequence of controversies and a minimum of one doubtlessly career-destroying gaffe, mentioned Victor Lopez, founding father of Kayros Group, a political technique agency that labored on the marketing campaign.
“His message has been clear: he’s not a conventional politician and has at all times offered himself because the anti-politician, an outsider, impartial of Colombia’s conventional political class,” Lopez mentioned in an video interview from Madrid. “His prime three weapons once we studied his marketing campaign have been his authenticity, his humor and his charisma, so we labored with that.”
The primary spherical catapulted Hernandez from little-known onetime mayor of a provincial metropolis into the favourite for the June 19 runoff. He turned the tables on presidential rival Gustavo Petro, 62, a senator and former mayor of Bogota who had been tipped to grow to be Colombia’s first leftist chief.
Lopez, 37, has labored with candidates all through Latin America together with El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele, and mentioned that he needed to rebrand Hernandez’s struggling marketing campaign final yr and design a method to spice up his title recognition. His group needed to fend off scandals similar to Hernandez slapping a neighborhood politician and his feedback calling Adolf Hitler an important German thinker — “the largest mistake I’ve seen in a political profession,” Lopez mentioned.
Kayros Group labored on the marketing campaign from October by way of late January earlier than leaving over what Lopez mentioned was “incompatibility.”
In that point, they targeted on social media after discovering that greater than 80% of Colombia’s 51 million folks may very well be reached on-line, and created a video of Hernandez sporting sun shades whereas sitting backward in a chair. The clip opens with the phrase “viejo pero sabroso,” which interprets roughly as “previous however tasty,” making an attempt to make Hernandez seem casual and enjoyable. It has 1.7 million views.
Some 36 million Colombians might be reached by way of Fb with one other 30 million by way of YouTube, whereas the attain for Instagram and TikTok is eighteen million and 14 million respectively, Lopez mentioned. Twitter lags by comparability with about 4 million, he mentioned.
The marketing campaign highlighted public works tasks Hernandez constructed throughout his time as mayor of Bucaramanga in northeastern Colombia and adopted slogans similar to “there’s sufficient cash when nobody steals,” a preferred chorus of Bukele’s throughout his 2019 ascent to energy.
Voter help for Hernandez rose from 5% to fifteen% within the three months they labored collectively, Lopez mentioned. Within the Might 29 first spherical, he took greater than 28% of the vote.
“We determined to throw out the script,” mentioned Lopez. “He simply needed to be genuine with out making critical errors.”
Markets rallied within the expectation that Hernandez can spoil Petro’s bid to overtake Colombia’s financial mannequin. The Colombian peso is the second-best performing forex this week.
But Hernandez’s financial program stays largely a clean slate, whereas his anti-corruption focus is tarnished by the truth that he’s being investigated for potential irregularities in tendering public contracts whereas mayor.
Polls nonetheless counsel an in depth race, and for all Hernandez’s use of TikTok, a breakdown of voting intention exhibits Petro enjoys far higher help among the many 18-40 age group.
Hernandez continues to be projecting authenticity. He spent election day by the pool at his nation house close to Bucaramanga, whereas his speech after the outcomes got here in confirmed him sitting within the kitchen whereas supporters rallied in a public sq. within the metropolis.
Petro, who has criticized Hernandez by saying that graft can’t be stomped out with TikTok movies, appears to be taking observe: He’s now not holding marketing campaign rallies throughout the nation.
The unpredictable race in Colombia comes on the again of a sequence of defeats for ruling events throughout the area, as inequalities that have been uncovered by the pandemic and deepened by inflation shake up politics.
Throughout the final yr, voters in Peru and in Chile elected unconventional presidents, whereas Honduras voted in Xiomara Castro following 12 years of conservative rule. However it’s not merely a “pink” wave: Costa Rica elected conservative Rodrigo Chaves to finish eight years of leftist PAC get together rule.
“You see the identical sample in each election,” Lopez mentioned. “Ever since Covid-19 began, ruling events are getting destroyed.”
In Colombia, Hernandez has attracted endorsements from defeated candidates, doubtlessly tipping the stability in his favor. Lopez mentioned he expects Hernandez to stay with the marketing campaign methods that helped him get this far. If something, the social media blitz has solely intensified underneath his new strategists.
“The fact is that residents have been asking for change all through the nation,” Lopez mentioned. “What we did was hearken to Colombians.”