Posted by Dale Buss on December 20, 2011 01:01 PM
How's this for a Yuletide message: "Demobilize. Everything Is Possible in Christmas time." And we're not talking about laying down your department-store charge cards here, or beating shopping carts into plowshares.
This very real entreaty — "to entice guerrilla fighters out of the jungle to turn themselves in," as Ad Age puts it — comes from the very serious business in Colombia of its ministry of defense urging anti-government guerrillas to lay down their arms. The ranks of the insurgency, run by a group known as FARC, have dwindled to fewer than 5,000 fighters in the Colombian jungles from as many as 30,000 a decade ago. But they're still a thorn in the side of the U.S. ally.
And so for the second consecutive year Lowe SSP3, a Colombian ad agency, is using good old Madison Avenue techniques and digital technology from America, along some indigenous twists, to attempt to persuade more of the remaining guerrillas finally to lay down their arms.
The call to action (not arms): "Do not miss this Christmas, Colombia and your family are waiting for you. Demobilise. At Christmas everything is possible." But why this time of year? Because former fighters have said that Christmas remains important even to revolutionaries. So in this year's campaign, called "Rivers of Light," Lowe SSP3 is floating thousands of plastic balls filled with messages and small gifts from family and friends down the waterways used by the insurgents in the jungle.
They include solar-powered LEDs for night-time visibility, and the agency is looking into the possibility of using Google Maps to do geo-targeting involving specific rivers known to traverse territory where individual guerrillas roam, at the request of family members who hope to provide a personal touch.
Colombians are loading the balls with written messages and small gifts, and "Rivers of Light" includes a campaign to get the citizenry involved.
There's reason to think that this is more than just a symbolic effort. After Lowe SSP3's Cannes-award-winning initial "demobilization" campaign last year, more than 300 guerrillas surrendered, about 30 percent more than December of 2009. The agency is hoping for a similar number this year.