TEDStories: Advertising for peace?

With Juan-Miguel Sokoloff (Colombia) ARTE – 2015

26 & 52 minutes versions. Available in French, English, German


We are subjected to three thousand ads on average, per day. Brands, logos, taglines, we are bombarded with orders to consume, to conform. But what if advertising was used for another purpose? What if we used its power and reach to restore peace? Meet Jose Miguel Sokoloff, an advertising-executive based in Bogota.

Colombia, his country, has lived in civil war for 50 years. It started as a rebellion, led by the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, against land confiscation. With drug trafficking and militias, ideological reasons have gone lost in combat, a combat that serves private interests.
With six hundred thousand dead and three point seven million displaced, the population pays the hard price. It is a national disaster that touches colombians in their body, their soul, their home.

Seven years ago with the situation in a dead-end, the minister of defence tried another weapon: communication.
He asked José Miguel to help demobilize FARC soldiers, to get them out of the jungle. The agency quickly dropped out defensive tactics, like guilt and stigmatisation, to play on surprise, on positive emotions.
Aimed at calling the humanity inside of everyone, these campaigns have been implemented like military operations.
With a key impact. After 3 years of peace talks, FARC and government may well reach an agreement.

So, what if Colombia was ahead of us? What if the strategy used to demobilize guerrillas there help us better understand extremist groups here, and better answer to their tragic actions? Could communication, this terrible tool of war, become a formidable weapon of peace?


By : Flore Vasseur with Gregory Hopf – Images : Emmanuel Royer – Sound : Cesar Salazar – Assistant : Margot Moizillon – Production managers : Camille Crozat et Adèle Dumour – Post production manager : Florian Lobstein – Production : Zadig Productions / Arte GEIE