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Operation Christmas

Operation Christmas

(p.79) Chapter Two Operation Christmas
Guerrilla Marketing
Alexander L. Fattal
University of Chicago Press

This chapter tells the story a series of advertising campaigns produced by the PAHD–Lowe/SSP3 partnership during five Christmas seasons (2010–2014). Those campaigns urged guerrilla fighters to abandon the armed struggle and return home for the holiday. The chapter focuses on the 2011 campaign, “Operation Rivers of Light,” tracing it from drawing board to presidential launch. The propaganda campaign acts as an atmospheric intervention designed to affect the public’s affective disposition to the armed forces. The chapter looks at the creative ways that the marketers seek to rebrand the military as a humanitarian actor that is interested in the family life and emotional well being of its mortal enemies. The Christmas campaigns become a way of buttressing the legitimacy of a military that has been beset by human rights abuses. At the same time, Operation Christmas shows how the military seeks to control the narrative surrounding the conflict and how that effort fits within a broader effort to renarrate the nation, conjuring a vision of a peaceful Colombia ready to receive an influx of tourists and investment. The chapter takes place amid the backdrop of then-secret peace negotiations and the assassination of Alfonso Cano, the FARC’s leader.

Keywords:   Operation Christmas, humanitarian militarism, renarration of the nation, atmospheric intervention, legitimacy, human rights abuses, propaganda and advertising, tourists and investment, nation branding, family reunification

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