Five hundred million Reais (R$ 500 million) is the value that Brazilian political parties PSDB, PT and PSB estimate spending on the dispute of this year’s elections. A value that is almost double of what they spent in 2010, around R$ 266 million. The most important fact of this election cost is the origin of the funds, that mostly come from donations from businesses, but also the so called Party Fund (see the irony?!) or Fundo Partidário which is public money distributed to political parties to conduct their activities.
Faced with so many protests and changes on human relations occurring in Brazil and in the world we can conclude that the 2014 elections that take place in October in Brazil will not equal any other. In a country where 97% of homes have television, the growing number of households with access to the internet is changing one peculiar Brazilian scenario. Many of the Brazilian households had access until recently to only one open tv channel which indirectly influenced the choice of Brazilians. See the role of television in the 1989 elections of the famous video editing case of the debate between Collor x Lula.
You can read the article above or this one by Forbes, to understand Rede Globo’s influence in Brazil. Add to that, the fact that most Brazilians are poorly educated and with a low rate of readers, TV has always been Brazilians main entertainment source.
Now 48% of the population has access to the Internet and that number is growing. But back to our article main subject, one would find contradicting that political marketing plays such an important role in a country where everyone older than 18 years old is required to vote. To understand that we need to look at why politics is so important in Brazil.
Getting into politics in Brazil is a way to improve someone’s lives. Working for public companies in general pays more than commercial companies and being in a political role gives people access to money and power that can be gained licitly and illicitly. Nothing new here. That’s how it is all over the world. But in Brazil the high tax burden that affects everyone, serves to finance the political industry that does not give back in public services and invests all that money on benefits for themselves: high wages, hiring power, convenient job creation and access to money to execute government services, often outsourced to companies owned by someone in the government or someone they know. Prices charged to the government on public bids are commonly higher than regular prices as proved by the World Cup scandals.
History and context in Brazilian politics
To guarantee their candidates are elected to government positions around the country, political parties use the influence of political marketing since the beginning of the republic. Candidates back then used to inaugurate bridges and finish building important infrastructure projects closer to elections so that they would be remember by the public as doers. There’s a famous phrase used by politicians in Brazil that went: “Rouba mas faz.” something like “He steals but he does something.”
The financial investment on the elections is proportional to the number of voters making “the democracy party” in Brazil, a lucrative market that Brazilians are required to consume from every two years. Parties and politicians fight real battles to get the voters attention, and election campaigns are just like any other marketing campaign with briefings, planned history of the candidate and the city where the election is, polls on voting intentions, politics and marketing agenda, electoral legislation, creation of graphics and collateral that usually pollute the cities, production of radio programs and television, media planning and costs of a campaign. Lately, political marketing has heavily used the tools of digital marketing thus opening a new front on the electoral wars in the country.
Brazilian political campaigns produce the most funny videos!
With so much activity and money pouring on politics, Brazil has formed professionals specialized on this kind of marketing and the country now exports these professionals to execute Brazilian style political campaigns in countries in Latin America and even Africa. Just like Joseph Goebells in the Nazi Germany, these communication professionals become real legends of their trade.
Famous names on political marketing in Brazil are João Santana, Duda Mendonça, Paulo Vasconcelos, Nizan Guanaes, Chico Santa Rita, between others. The last one launched a book trilogy called “Batalhas Eleitorais – Trilogia” covering his career and his role on the famous presidential election process mentioned at the beginning of this article.
Social media: increasingly the strongest political marketing tool in Brazil
Twitter recently dispatched its top political strategist to Brazil to give senators a talk on how to use social networks ahead of the October elections. Social media is a vast territory in Brazil and it wouldn’t be different with politics.
The social networks play a central role on recent Brazilian protests as the meeting point of the people sick and tired of the Brazilian political system. But it’s these same politicians that are using now the new media to reach out and engage followers in a very dirty brazilian political way.
Dilma Bolada, a famous Twitter profile that started making jokes with the name of President Dilma became part of the government and its responsible now manages the official Twitter profile of the President of Brazil, using the same cyber ironic language of their many followers. Dilma Bolada recently caught and published the administrator of the official page of the competitor, the presidential candidate Eduardo Campos (PSB) negotiating to buy followers on the micro blog. As a result Eduardo Campo’s social media team was fired. The resignation also happened because of other gaffes like posting a photo of Eduardo Campos travelling on a private jet, on a day when Recife, his electoral base, was suffering from a strike on public transportation. The last straw was an attack of the same social media team to the other presidential contestant Aécio Neves, associating the name of the Brazilian politician to cocaine consumption.
Political parties in Brazil are now training their local base around the country on how to publish, produce photos and video for posting and how to gather more followers on social media. They are looking to avoid problems with the electoral justice but also protect their points of views and most importantly, attack their opponents in every possible way. For Brazilian politicians, the social media battle is just starting.