Tiririca was a clown in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
He started in fairgrounds, he had hit records, and eventually he had his own TV show.
Tiririca was popular because he spoke the language of ordinary people.
To be fair he wasn’t popular with everyone.
He wasn’t popular with the rich, the people who had everything.
Tiririca was only popular with the poor.
But in Brazil, there are many more poor people than rich people.
And yet politicians everywhere ignore the poor.
Politicians make policies for other politicians and journalists.
People who understand and care about the world of politics.
The poor don’t care about the world of politics.
Neither did Tiririca.
So, in 2010, he decided to stand for government as Federal Deputy.
To give the poor people a voice.
And he decided to speak in the language of poor people.
Not in the language of politicians.
With his crazy blonde hair, bright red hat, and harlequin costume he made political ads for TV.
They featured him dancing, laughing, and singing catchy jingles.
Songs that ordinary people could sing.
His campaign strapline was: NOTHING CAN BE WORSE THAN THE WAY IT IS NOW.
Poor people understood that, it was the language of the streets.
One of his commercials ended with the line: WHATEVER YOU THINK OF ME, AT LEAST IT’S NOT LIES.
Poor people understood exactly what that meant.
His most famous ad said: WHAT DOES A FEDERAL DEPUTY DO? I DON’T KNOW, BUT VOTE FOR ME AND I’LL TELL YOU.
Poor people loved the honesty.
Obviously other politicians ignored him: no one would vote for a clown.
But they did.
He won by a landslide, the professional politicians were humiliated.
But what did the professional politicians do?
Did they learn from it?
No, they criticised him as nothing but a protest-vote.
They didn’t criticise themselves for ignoring the voters’ concerns.
They criticised Tiririca for channelling the voters’ anger.
And was he just a protest vote?
Four years later, in 2014, Tiririca was elected again, beating all the professional politicians once more.
The ones who were still saying he was just a protest vote.
The ones who were saying the voters got it wrong.
The ones who learned nothing.
Just like people in advertising who don’t want to do adverts for common people.
Adverts with funny straplines that people will repeat, or memorable little songs that people can sing.
They don’t want to make crass, corny jingles.
That’s why most advertising doesn’t work.
It doesn’t go viral: no one talks about it, or repeats it, or sings it.
In fact the public doesn’t even notice it.
Just like professional politicians, we’ve forgotten who we’re supposed to be working for.