How do you get guerrillas to demobilize? By appealing to their human side

Photo Credit: harrystaab via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: harrystaab via Compfight cc

Jose Miguel's Wired article 'How I Tamed Guerrillas with Guerilla Marketing' speaks for itself, in its quest to turn perspective on its head.  The setting?  Deep in the Columbian jungle.  The problem?  Getting Guerrillas to demobilize.  The answer? Appealing to the guerrillas human side.

In our quest to find new things to say, we became overwhelmed by the personal stories we heard. One deeply-in-love couple was separated by their commanders, because falling in love is forbidden in the lower ranks; the woman's testimony, recorded for radio, was heard by her boyfriend, who immediately left his group to find her. There was a mother who had been made to abort repeatedly but wanted to have a family; a son who missed Christmas so much he had decided to risk his life to return.

We realised the human side would never wear out. So we installed Christmas trees near where guerrillas moved soldiers and supplies. At night these nine gigantic trees covered in lights delivered our message: “If Christmas can come to the jungle, you can come home. Demobilise. At Christmas, everything is possible.” There was a 30 per cent year-on-year increase in demobs.

We went to the towns where most of the guerrillas had been born and asked locals to send small messages or gifts to the guerrillas a few kilometres away. We then set out to deliver thousands of heartfelt messages with small gifts such as toy cars and a few pieces of religious jewellery. Each note or gift was put in a separate floating illuminated ball that travelled down-river into the guerrillas' hands (the army later picked up the uncollected balls). Again, the power of human emotions proved invaluable.

Happy Valentine's day from a Heart Life Lens™.

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