‘Our Brand Is Crisis’ explores politics and marketing

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Karen Kunawicz

Karen Kunawicz

Jane Bodine (Sandra Bullock) is a brilliant strategist, pulse reader and marketing mind. She can quote appropriate nuggets of wisdom from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and from the world’s leaders and thinkers. That is, of course, when you can get her out of ‘retirement’ and give her a good reason to throw everything she’s got an at opponent.

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Beyond a new project in Bolivia that’s bound to pay well—the new project pitch offers a chance at facing her nemesis Pat Candy (Billy Bob Thornton).

Director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) takes on a film inspired by a 2005 documentary also named “Our Brand is Crisis” written and directed by Rachel Boynton. That documentary was about candidates getting savvy American experts in the field of marketing, PR and political campaigns involved the 2002 Bolivian presidential elections.

The film is a blend of both comedic and serious moments. It also reveals a little bit of how a great marketing and advertising mind works—there’s a combination of fantastic instincts, a great read on the world, a degree of tenacity and a downright competitive nature.

Equipped with a good budget, there are geniuses out there who have an incredible knack for using media, words and scenarios to manipulate minds a.k.a. their market or their audience. The candidate is no longer a human being but an product to be sold, and ideally, bought and he truth is something to be twisted, hidden or exploited and certainly not taken for what it is.

It is acknowledged that advertising mainly sells things most people might not need or even want by cleverly pushing the buttons people have. Our Brand Is Crisis is a story about that. But it also becomes a story about brilliant people and where they choose to operate and whom they choose to serve.

Most of the movie focuses on the campaign of presidential aspirant Pedro Castillo (Joachim de Almeida), driven by the sharp calls of Bodine. There is a bit of time though devoted to the question we have each time we see a talented person support or defend an idea, person or cause we are leery of: Why do they do it? Is it the challenge? Is it the chance to flex their strategic muscles? Fame? Fortune? Could they not use their skills for worthy causes? Or something they truly believe in?

A quote near the end of the film is tailor made for the cynic in all of us, “If voting could institute change, it would be illegal.” But what happens when one or two spin doctors comes face to face with the fact they’re not dealing with just statistics but actual people and real lives?

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Our Brand is Crisis opened last Wednesday January 13.

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