'What would your future Brazil look like?': the TV campaign that backfired
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Ahead of the 2018 presidential elections in Brazil, the private television channel Globo invited viewers to send short videos showing their vision of Brazil for the future. Unfortunately for the campaign’s organisers, quite a few people took to social media to post videos of what they don't want their country to look like.
Next October, Brazilians will go to the polls to elect their next president. To start off this election year, Brazil’s main television channel, TV Globo, asked citizens to make 15-second videos expressing their vision for the future of the country.
In a televised ad for the campaign, smiling Globo journalists invite viewers to become “spokespeople” for their towns and neighbourhoods. They ask viewers to film themselves standing in front of a symbolic monument or building in their town and to send the video to the channel.
However, quite a few people weren’t interested in making videos that show a picture-postcard-perfect version of Brazil.
Ieda Paiva, a Rio de Janeiro resident, posted her response on Facebook on January 20. In her video, she stands in a crowded corridor filled with patients waiting to see a doctor in Salgado Filho Hospital, located in a neighborhood in the northern part of the Brazilian capital.
"Globo invited people to send in videos of cute places in which you explain with a big smile the country that you want,” she wrote in the caption to her video, which shows just the opposite: the Brazil she doesn’t want.
Paiva’s video garnered 13 million views in just three days on social media. Hundreds of people left comments, most of them supportive.
"Thank you for this video, which shows the reality we live and not the lies that Globo wants to broadcast,” wrote one viewer.
"The real question is how can we make Brazil better”
Paiva told the France 24 Observers team that she was surprised by all the reactions she got to her video.
I had no idea that this video would become so popular. Lots of people have accused me of being too political but that isn’t the case: I just wanted to show what’s really happening in Brazil.
I had just arrived in the hospital with my mom, after she fell down in the bus. I saw the people waiting in long lines in the hallways of the hospital. I was really angered by the poor conditions and I decided to channel that into my response to the TV Globo campaign.
It’s pretty clear that the channel wants to show a positive image of Brazil. They asked viewers to film themselves in pretty places, for example. But that’s the side of Brazil that everyone knows about: okay, our country is beautiful, but the real question is how can we make it better? That’s why I think we need to talk about the Brazil we don’t want.
Closed hospitals, overflowing landfills
Paiva wasn’t the only one to highlight Brazil’s problems. Quite a few other people took to Facebook to post videos with the hashtag #OBrasilQueEuNãoQuero ("The Brazil that I don’t want”). Many of the videos also highlighted failings in the health sector.
A man living in Caràzinho, in Rio Grande Do Sul state, made a video in front of a newly built health centre that was never opened due to a lack of resources. According to several local media reports, the Caràzinho health centre has been ready since 2014. In a report published last July, O Globo newspaper (which belongs to the same group as TV Globo) counted at least ten different closed health centres in this southern Brazilian state.
In another video, a resident of Brazil’s economic capital, Sao Paulo, complained about how his neighbourhood hospital had been closed “for over a year.”
A resident of Recife, in the northeast, posted a video of people going to a food bank.
Another man, this one from Montes Claros, in Minas Gerais state, made a video about the trash heaps piling up around his neighbourhood.
He claimed that both residents and industrial manufacturers illegally deposit waste in this residential area.
“I don’t want any more trash in front of my door!” he cried.
A conservative channel
Others seized the opportunity to denounce media organisations, like TV Globo, that are seen as supporting the current conservative government.
During the trial leading to the impeachment of former president Dilma Rousseff (who was succeeded by current president Michel Temer), TV Globo was accused of taking sides. The private channel generally leans to the right and is regarded by some critics as a propaganda tool for Brazil’s conservative camp.