Merry Christmas Guerrilleros, Colombia Wants You to Come Home

Clients traditionally ask advertisers to create campaigns with the intent of selling a product, or developing their brand’s reputation. But what if your client was a country ravaged by Civil War for over 50 years, and what they wanted was for you to help them sell peace? That is what advertising executive Jose Miguel Sokoloff and his agency were tasked with. As a result of dozens of successful campaigns, Colombia is finally on the path to peace. Tourism and international investments have increased, transforming Colombia and repositioning it as an up and coming nation.

Of all the campaigns that Sokoloff designed and launched, the one that resonated with me most was, “Mother’s Voice”. Through subtle yet profound emotional connections, the agency communicated directly to the FARC and reminded them of the significance of being with family during the holidays. The agency was able to locate over 20 mothers who had lost their sons and daughters to the Civil War and asked them to beg their children to come home. These mothers haven’t seen their children in over 20 years, so they provided old photos of their kids to the agency who then placed the words, “Before being a guerilla, you are my daughter/son”. These photos were strewn across the jungles of Colombia, thus hitting the proverbial jugular of the FARC and encouraging them to demobilize. The agency reports that 218 mothers have been able to welcome their children home as a result of the effective campaign.

Watch the clip from 60 Minutes Overtime here.

As a first generation Colombian, I cannot express what this means to my family. For the first time in my adult life, I no longer have to hide my heritage and can proudly praise the progress we have achieved. I am even more elated that this progress was achieved through effective advertising and not more violence. If you haven’t been to Colombia, I urge you to do so and am happy to provide travel tips. As my cousin Fabio would say, “Colombia es una chimba!” or, “Colombia is awesome!”.



(2016, December 11) Advertising to sell peace, not products. 60 Minutes Overtime.

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