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A Symbol for Venezuelan Democracy The Challenge

Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez has disqualified the wildly popular politician, Leopoldo Lopez, from running for re-election until 2012 based on trumped up criminal charges. We have been asked to help make Lopez electable again in Venezuela using an international communications strategy. Additionally, we have been asked to differentiate Lopez from other opposition leaders.

Our Approach

We believe that targeting Venezuelan expatriates in the United States as well as politically active and socially conscious U.S. university students will give us a powerful base for creating a socially charged movement. In doing so, we aim to create enough awareness of the situation in the United States that U.S. citizens take note and urge our leaders to put pressure on Venezuela to reinstate Leopoldo Lopez and other disqualified candidates in the name of democracy. Lopez will serve as a symbol for the platform of democracy, our primary message, and in doing so, will also be differentiated as a clear leader from other opposition candidates.

Campaign Objective Make Leopoldo Lopez a symbol of democracy. In order to achieve this overarching campaign objective, we will be communicating our support of Lopez’s organization, Redes Populares, by creating a grassroots movement in the United States that consists of targeted media, PR and lobbying efforts.


Our campaign objective will be achieved by communicating with two target audiences. Expatriates serve as the epicenter of our movement. They are the knowledge base and inspiration that influence U.S. Citizens (particularly university students because of their historically high involvement in social causes) to become involved in the movement. These targets in combination put pressure on Venezuela to re-instate democratic candidates.


U.S. Citizens


Communication Barriers American Students

American students suffer from cause fatigue. The sheer number of choices makes it difficult for them to prioritize one cause over the other, so they either: 1) Select a new cause each day, taking if off like a piece of clothing when the day is over. 2) Choose no cause because they get trapped in analysis paralysis and can’t decide. Even after they’ve decided to commit to a cause, it’s an added challenge to keep their attention and engagement as the days become months and the months, years. Furthermore, the cares and concerns of Venezuela are far removed from those of a college student. Making the cause relate-able to them is thus a formidable challenge. Lastly, many Americans perceive Venezuelans as hostile towards America. This misperception makes Americans less apt to lend a hand.


The key problem is getting expatriates to externalize the conversation they’re already having within their communities. Expatriates need to be encouraged to move the word beyond their circles so that they can mobilize a student nation. The first step is to overcome the perception that they can do little for Venezuela now that they’ve emigrated. They must also combat any guilt they have in leaving their country for America. Until these hurdles are cleared, they cannot become the catalysts of the antiChavez movement in the United States. Once we make inroads on these issues, we’ll need to address the communications rift between expatriates and native born American students. Many Venezuelan expatriates have a hard time believing that Americans would care about or understand their problems.

Path to Involvement Awareness






Print, Radio

“Point of Purchase”


Advocacy Reinforcement

Context Choices: Expatriates Their Story America’s Venezuelan expatriates did not make the decision to leave their country lightly, but rather from a sense that they had run out of all other options. They left their homeland for a variety of reasons – among them violence, unstable economy, and loss of individual rights. Many chose to migrate to the same area of the United States and have a formed tightly knit community that provides them with a sense of home and familiarity. These communities have also proven to be places of political action, with many immigrants still congregating to discuss the news and politics of their homeland. Many Venezuelan expatriates retain the right to v o t e i n Ve n e z u e l a , m a k i n g t h e m t h e foundational building block of our plan. Thanks to their unique position, they are able to affect change both within their country and serve as an ambassador for the cause in the United States. According to a 2007 Business Week article, as many as 100,000 Venezuelans now live in South Florida, and their numbers are rising. We want to focus on the cities with the most notable concentrations of Venezuelan expatriates, Doral and Weston, which have come to be referred to as Westonzuela.

TV Venezuelan channel Globovision, available on cable in South Florida. Telemundo, Spanish language cable channel. ONLINE, Venezuelan online news channel. Online news sites mentioned in further detail in print.

POINT OF “PURCHASE” Physical locations that Expatriates / Venezuelan-Americans are likely to “buy” our message. Cafes & places of community organization. Weston has many Venezuelan bakeries and cafes that have become political hotbeds for Venezuelan expatriates. Independent Venezuelan-American Citizens. A group that encourages Venezuelan participation in local politics.

RADIO As the Hispanic population is a huge consumer of radio, we will appear on three major Hispanic radio stations serving the Miami-Dad area: WXDJ-FM WCMQ-FM WRMA-FM

PRINT We will appear in news publications in Southern Florida that are targeted for both the Venezuelan community as well as the larger Latino community: Diario Las Americas El Popular El Venezolano Venezuela al Dia El Sentinel La Prensa

Objective: Motivate expatriates to externalize their political activism. Context Strategy: Talk to them when they are in a politically charged community setting.

Context Choices: U.S. Citizens Their Story The expatriates will serve as a fundamental communicator with politically active and socially conscious college students (for example: groups such as Young Republicans, Young Democrats, political science and social work students, sororities and fraternities). Through close collaboration, student groups and these Venezuelan expatriates will push these issues to Capitol Hill where they will put pressure on our politicians and community leaders to champion the cause.

PRINT Our audience enjoys human interest stories and stays current on national and international issues through traditional trusted print news sources. Newspapers Washington Post New York Times Magazines Time Magazine National Geographic ONLINE We want to appear online where U.S. Citizens who are politically active or socially conscious already congregate, as well as online news sources. Facebook Groups, for example: Young Republicans Young Democrats News & Human Interest Websites TV National Geographic Channel CNN BBC Fox News Discovery POINT OF “PURCHASE” Physical locations that politically active or socially conscious individuals are likely to “buy” our message. College Campus / Community Events. Events will take place on college campuses where politically active and socially conscious students are highly concentrated as well as those with a large Hispanic population. We will utilize organizations such as sororities, fraternities, Young Republicans and Young Democrats, and Students for a Democratic Society, for example. LOBBYING Utilize human rights and democracy advocate organizations to lobby / put pressure on national legislators and leaders. Human Rights & Political Organizations. For example, World Movement for Democracy or Human Rights Watch.

Objective: Differentiate Venezuela’s situation from other countries’ political and social causes. Context Strategy: Talk to them when they’re most likely to remember that they are enjoying their everyday freedoms.

Christina Herrmann, CS / Gloria Omaswa, CS / Eva Schiave, CS / Layne Wilson, CS

Leopoldo Lopez Media Strategy  

VCU Brandcenter Student Project

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