March 12th, 2012
Brazil’s “Iron Lady” Humanized Through Digital Campaign

By Jessika Gomez-Duarte

In the the SXSWi panel “How Digital Softened Brazil’s Iron Lady” Andrew Paryzer, Director of Accounts at Blue State Digital, shared the story of Dilma Rousseff’s 2010 presidential campaign – which not only led to Brazil’s first female president, but also the first time in which a Brazilian candidate used social media to connect with voters online.

By leveraging diverse social media channels, including Twitter, Rousseff’s team was able to introduce and humanize a candidate who was not originally seen as telegenic or charismatic. Rousseff’s team had to soften her image from the title, “The Iron Lady”, and personalizing the candidate using social media was the tool to do that.

On the first day of her campaign, Rousseff launched a Twitter account (@dilmabr) to engage with her audience. This strategy was complemented through a site created by her party (, which focused on action over content consumption by providing activists with tools to mobilize their communities.

Once elected, Rousseff stopped tweeting, which raises concern about the maintenance of her relationship with voters online.  Will she be able to come back to them and ask for their vote in 2014?

Jessika Gomez-Duarte


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