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José Luis González, Professor of Literature, University of Navarra, Spain

Esther, the loaves and the blood

Mon, 02 May 2011 15:09:29 +0000 Published in El Comercio de Gijón, La Voz de Avilés, Que, Lainformació

The class of my class had to learn MacLuhan's visionary axiom "the medium is the message". That Canadian professor studied how the human senses participate in a communicative act and how they register information. A minute of TV, or a vigorous three-second image, can be worth more than a thorough and irreproachable analysis of a whole page. Writing a story is not the same as shooting a movie. A candidate can rant things at a rally that you wouldn't say to yourself on the couch at home. In the profession, journalists call 'canutazo' to the 'here I catch you' statements, those phrases skinned at the ringside of the political circus, or -on the other side- those contents that the heads of lists will take advantage of (for?) when, this May, their campaign managers are sure that they have just connected live the national 'telediarios'.

We also learned in those years indelible notions about advertising. An effective poster is a shout on the wall. Advertisers -and our country is full of talents in its agencies- know how to stand out from the crowd and not get lost in the labyrinth of walls. Even their professional honesty dodges those three millenary risks of advertisements: silencing information, suggesting the undue association of values or achievements and touting false or unrealistic expectations. You know, those clichés about losing so much weight in such a short time, the super blonde leaning on the sensual young car, the tiny print detailing the deadlines, plus the amount of entrance and choking conditions.

Entrepreneurs - especially in times of crisis - also show through their attitude towards advertising how they can weather the storms and gales of the tough years. The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist waits for the onslaught to subside and the realist prepares the sails to take advantage of the strength of the air. At advertising you can feel it. The cautious one ties in short the pessimist budget of promotion, the others make investment of whatever comes, of the adventure of the wind.

I say this because two campaigns are attracting attention these weeks.

Days before, in the marquees, big open hands covered the faces of several close-ups with a question always youthful and current: "Why don't you show your face? These days it has been revealed who was hiding behind those faces: Andrés Iniesta, Xavi Hernández, Edurne Pasabán, Carolina Cerezuela and Carlos Moyá, who are asking us to show our faces and donate blood. They have lent themselves, free of charge, to repeat it in the community with the most generous blood in the country: fifty-three out of every thousand inhabitants of Navarra, 3% of its population, get up early on certain days to give a few centiliters of their bloodstream on an empty stomach. Thirty thousand times in 2010 all these people donated. Fortunately, almost 70% of the new donors who roll up their sleeves for blood donations are under 25 years of age. But ADONA, the association, now wants to involve more volunteers, people coming from other places, where they have not inherited this health culture and have different alphabets and Rh.

Yet another campaign focuses on young people. In the middle of a storm, Catholics go out on deck as always, whichever way the wind blows, to Peter's boat. It is very respectable. They have been rowing for two millennia.

A neighbor of my portal told me that in August his family will have two strangers in their home. With the advertising I understand. They will participate in WYD (workshop World Youth Day) this summer in Madrid. Possibly two million young people from ninety countries. And the welcome campaign is underway. Even big brands are backing the event. A man in his eighties, and what he represents, a university professor emeritus who writes books, letters and speaks with open eyes about the "eclipse of God" among us, attracts more than quite a few music groups of today.

Vicente Del Bosque supported the initiative at Christmas. And the actor who played the greengrocer in 'Siete vidas'. And now I have learned from a magazine about the campaign. For example, Esther Berdasco, a beautiful baker, first time I see her, says smiling that yes, she collaborates too. Of course, they have launched a website, which for a Catholic opens up a clear double meaning- where they invite you to those days in August.

Those of us who work with young people guess -we know- that in that heat, universal as blood, of Madrid will be the transfusion of the future of the following times. In Madrid will gather imminent surgeons, plumbers, upcoming teachers, waiters, waitresses, lawyers, bodyworkers, advertisers, unfortunately an unfair issue of unemployed with academic preparation, computer scientists, almost professional smokers, professors of future curricula, a priest, firefighters, soccer players and donors of promising blood and spinal cord. And, I hope, bakers like Esther. They don't shout at the walls. If anything, the walls scream at them in Madrid's sky and in less polluted skies. But a young sky, freshly made.