Movie Review: Communicating Crisis to Attract Crisis

Movie Poster

Movie title: Our Brand is Crisis

Runtime: 103 minutes

Genre: Comedy Drama

Written by: Peter Straughan

Directed by: David Gordon Green

Year of Release: 2015

Reviewer: Olutayo Irantiola


In my summation, one of those who know how to communicate best are politicians, they use every tactic to ensure that they win at the pools. The movie which is premised on the 2002 Bolivian presidential election tactfully depicts the various strategies that are usually deployed in Political Communications.

Two rival Political strategists- Jane Bodine, played by Sandra Bullock also known as “Calamity” and Pat Candy, played by Billy Bob Thornton were engaged from the United States to manage the political campaign of two major contenders- Pedro Castillo and Victor Rivera– they were three months into the election and they wanted to win at all cost. Castillo stood for globalization and considered unapproachable, but he was down by 28 points. The work before Jane was to rebrand the person that the electorates do not like, rebrand him and sell him.

There were various use of Public Relations tactics in the movie; some of interviews, focus groups, other areas of marketing communications in the movie include new media (online awareness) and TV adverts. Interestingly, they shot the first advert which they were not satisfied with and they could not on the second occasion. All the strategies was employed to ensure that their client won.

As the game got fiercer, Castillo was attacked during a campaign and he slapped the person who smashed an egg on his head, his communication team wanted to issue an apology press release but she objected as she knew it was a put-up job by Candy. Eventually, Jane came up with the idea of selling the brand as Crisis. The messaging was used to attract the electorates who saw it as either a means of saving the nation of socio-economic crisis or dying.

The campaign saw Castillo rolling up his sleeves for work rather than dressing like an elite with a suit, he gradually moved up the opinion poll. Rivera, the opponent was defined as a rogue, inexperienced and all his activities were monitored. Eventually, the electorates saw reasons to choose Castillo over his archrival, Rivera.

A cogent lesson for PR Specialist in the movie is that even a negative situation can be hammered upon till it turns positive before the publics. In the saying of Jane, “you don’t change the man to fit the narrative, you change the narrative to fit the man.” For them, there was only one wrong- losing. They won the election at last.

However, the unfortunate side was that the fear of the electorates became a reality immediately Castillo came into office, he engaged the International Monetary Funds (IMF) which is considered as an economic-tighten organization. Jane said, “that’s the world, that’s politics. It starts with big promises and ends with jack shit happening.”

The perception of Castillo changed but crisis could not be averted in the community based on his economic policies and decisions. As PR Specialists, would we continue to get involved in all sorts of tactical political communication during electioneering while we are getting unavoidably hurt by playing this game?

2019 elections is drawing near in Nigeria, what are we communicating to avoid all sorts of post-electioneering crisis. Many a times, for the financial benefits, we keep communicating at the expense of our conscience. As said by Warren Beatty “People may forget what you say but they remember how you make them feel” in the post-electioneering period.

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