Chilean miners buried underground became a story that dominated the world's attention. Large international broadcasters carefully monitored the story's development. CNN spent a couple of hours a day to miner updates - interviews with relatives, videos made by miners, their biographies, etc.
Several facts surprised me personally in this story. First, how prepared Chileans turned out to be for this type of emergency. Government acted promptly and in a coordinated fashion. Several rescue plans were developed. Nutritionists prepared special meals for miners while doctors monitored their condition. Miners were given a camera, almost right away, making videos from underground immediate worldwide hits. Miners' relatives looked sad but overall well. Miners ate regularly. It appeared that the working class of Chile did not have such a bad life.
This was the most surprising thing. Many of those living in the developing countries, similar to Chile, for sure expected the worst in the beginning of the story. Government was supposed to be not prepared, minister of emergencies not in the office, mine owner deeply silent or far abroad to avoid any prosecution. For example, if a similar tragedy would have taken place in Kazakhstan, how would you expect the story to unfold?
However the story unfolded in a totally different direction. Chilean top officials looked relaxed and in control, smiling and waiving to the Chilean nation united by one major tragedy.
This story dominated the world news because it was a miracle, a Cinderella story where Chilean miners were Cinderella, rescue capsule - a carriage and Chilean government - a Fairy Godmother. We love happy ending.
Story was over, just like the miracle, and it seemed that the world became a slightly better place. However while the remaining last miners were still being rescued, TV commercials for Chile started airing on CNN. A red flashing light was set off in my marketer brain.
Not so long ago an interesting viral campaign took place in Russia. A video about Russian police officers barely saving themselves from a pack of wolves on a remote highway was widely distributed in Russian speaking Internet space. The video and the story looked very real. Only recently it was revealed that it was a viral campaign to promote a vodka whose symbol was a wolf.
An ad was well made and trustworthy. To me, Chilean story also looks like a viral campaign, but on a different scale. Miraculous rescue of miners buried underground as a way to get free worldwide media coverage for several months? Oh yes. Call me a cynic, but I won't be surprised if in the next couple of months Chile will accept a record high number of tourists and country will have the highest ever turnout at the elections. The timing coinciding with the story of miners rescue will of course be a mere coincidence.