Posts by Sebastian Codeseira - Mexico

In Latin America, Coca-Cola gets subtly nostalgic for the optimistic ’80s

In this new Coca-Cola commercial from Latin America, adversity, loneliness and darkness are metaphors for the turbulent financial times we’re facing. The sun won’t come out by itself, we have to make it happen. We see a dark world in which a boy fetches a ladder, climbs it and paints a sun in the sky; everyone is awakened by it. Then we see endless ladders pointing at the sky, and the collective effort results in the sun eventually lighting every corner of the city. Coca-Cola’s optimistic message: The crisis is still here, but so is the sun; it’s just hidden, waiting to emerge through our collective efforts.

What’s curious about the spot is that the track is reminiscent of a typical ’80s jingle. And in fact the entire commercial has an ’80s mood. Is this a retro gesture, like the one we saw from Coca-Cola Mexico, which used the Annie song to assure people that the sun will come out tomorrow? Is Coca-Cola subtly linking the brand with the pop naivete of the ’80s, a time that wasn’t beset by any crisis? When the future is uncertain, optimism seems to rely on nostalgia as a point of reference.

HSBC: Pangea as metaphor and statement

A new HSBC commercial, “Pangea,” developed by JWT Mexico and JWT Brazil, is at once a metaphor for the world and a strong brand proposal at a time of crisis.

Today’s world is a new form of pangea (“a hypothetical continent including all the landmass of the earth prior to the Triassic period”): Globalization made the world become one, and the crisis makes this very clear, in that it’s happening everywhere, and everyone can relate to it.

Pangea is also a clear statement of overcoming: being together as a way to strengthen, to face adversity and to feel safe. The message carries a deep understanding that in hard times a basic instinct of bonding emerges: “There are times when it is better to stay together. More than a hundred million customers all over the world know it. That’s why they are all in the same place. Diversity is our strength.”

Pangea is both the problem and the solution. HSBC offers this powerful message to dramatize its brand values of strength and diversity on a global scale. Big brands need strong ideas to make a crisis become an opportunity.

In Argentina, a retailer gets playful

A couple of months ago, we saw how Wal-Mart’s “Don’t hold back on living” campaign gave an emotional meaning to saving. Now let’s see how Plaza Vea, another retailer, presents a different approach—a playful way of looking at saving. The campaign is based around some wordplay: “Ahorro” means saving in Spanish, while “arrorró” means lullaby. The idea is simply that the retailer helps you save so that you can sleep like a baby.

It’s a different angle on “saving.” And we’ll probably continue seeing more novel approaches as brands keep exploring the meaning of money in people’s lives.

Mexican tourism tries its own assurance plan to ease worries over swine flu

3100670174_73d49f9f7bHit by the double whammy of the economic downturn and the N1H1 flu outbreak, hotels chains in Cancun came up with an innovative idea: the flu-free guarantee campaign. Guests who have symptoms within 14 days of their departure and can produce the blood tests to prove it will get a free vacation a year for three consecutive years.

Desperate times call for desperate measures: Consider that in May, 80 percent of cruises and hotel reservations were canceled in Mexico; Mexican airports reported a 50 percent drop in traffic. Tourism here employs more than 2 million people and accounts for about 8 percent of the economy. Foreign tourism earned Mexico $13.3 billion last year. Mexico’s tourism minister has estimated that the swine flu could cost the economy around $2.3 billion.

In times of uncertainty, people want safety and guarantee. In this case, the uncertainty concerns not only their finances but their health—and this guarantee works on both levels. It seems to be working: Hotels that are part of this expect to see 90 percent occupancy.

Photo: Hugo Cadavez

Coca-Cola Mexico exhibits retro-optimism through Annie’s voice

Coca-Cola Mexico has launched a commercial that positions its family of drinks as icons of optimism. For this, it turns to a cultural icon: little orphan Annie. Different people in different settings sing parts of the chorus: “The sun will come out, tomorrow/Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there’ll be sun …”

Once again, icons and cultural codes are used to connect with an audience that shares those codes. What’s interesting is that the spot creates a contrast between the past (Annie) and the future (discourse about tomorrow) that reflects a cultural insight: We are avoiding this difficult present by simultaneously feeling nostalgic for the past and optimistic about the future. While Coca-Cola is making a statement about the future and optimism, the spot works insofar as it turns back to the past, using nostalgia to make an impact with the audience. It’s a strategy that might be called retro-optimism. —with the contribution of Sofia Ontivero

Argentinean newspaper lures marketers

Original Energizante 2Clarin, the biggest newspaper in Argentina, is promoting itself to marketing directors as the most effective media for these times. The print says: “It’s a year to sell or sell.” In other words, this year, you really need to sell your product. You don’t have options. If you don’t, you will go bankrupt. After reminding you of this harsh truth, Clarin continues, “Think well what you will do with your ad.” A straightforward concept that, along with its strong, humorous and grotesque tone and language, shows the consequences of not optimizing one’s advertising budget: few sales, excess stock, so … you end up eating all your chocolate or drinking all of your energy drinks. The ad closes with: “You need to sell, you need to advertise in Clarin.”

The message is simple but convincing: Today, more than ever, marketers must make the right decisions and have a clear plan of what, how and where to advertise.

Wal-Mart Argentina: Don’t hold back on living

In the tone of an emotional manifesto, JWT Argentina has created a commercial for Wal-Mart that says:

Don’t save

Don’t save air, don’t save words

Don’t save change

Don’t save laughter, don’t save tears

Don’t save love, nor kisses

Don’t save playing

Don’t save living

Just save money.”

These days, when everyone is saying how critical saving is, Wal-Mart tells you to do just the opposite: Live with no limits, don’t restrain yourself, except in your spending. The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Based on the brand’s global idea of “Save money, live better,” this campaign offers a clever twist; a simple, insightful and powerful approach that will enable Wal-Mart to make a stronger connection with people.

Amid swine flu scare, Mexican brands avert a crisis within a crisis


Sometimes one crisis can hide within another, and sometimes a crisis can actually provide an opportunity. Since the N1H1 flu (i.e., “swine flu”) virus hit Mexico, it has had a major impact not only on day-to-day life but also on Mexicans’ mood. An intense culture of caution emerged overnight in Mexico City: face masks, companies operating at half-speed, not to mention closed schools, universities, restaurants, cafés, cinemas, parks and museums.

The prevention campaign crystallized when the government declared five days of closing all non-essential business, virtually grinding the economy to a halt. In a message to the people, Mexican President Calderón suggested, “Stay home; it is the safest place you can be. Take this opportunity to spend time with your family and to do housework.”

mexico_impacEven as the crisis was affecting most businesses, it became clear that this was an opportunity for others. A few days after the president’s speech, a newspaper ad for IMPAC, one of the biggest paint shops, read, “Quarantine? Take the opportunity to waterproof your home in the next few days.” Comex, another paint supplier, also urged consumers to do some home improvement: “This weekend, make a new home out of your house. Make a new look for your home.”

As the health crisis has unfolded, a larger economic crisis has resulted as Mexican businesses have been forced to keep workers at home during the government-mandated quarantine. But even during a crisis, new opportunities can arise.

Encouraging family (and TV) time

sebas_cablevisionCablevision Mexico is writing to its customers:

Dear Subscriber,

They say these are difficult times. At Cablevision, we know these are times to show who we are. Time to go back to our family. Times in which being close to your loved ones should not be a sacrifice ….

The message encourages taking refuge in family, spending time together at home. Promoting this ideology of togetherness is a smart way to encourage spending more time watching subscription TV. And what makes this even smarter is the fact that the channel for the message is a simple letter. So the medium itself comes into the house to impart the message of staying home. Once again, the medium is the message.

Adidas defends authenticity as fakes flourish

In the global financial crisis, an alternative market in fakes (shoes, watches, electronics, etc.) is flourishing. In Argentina, Adidas is fighting back with a bit of humor, showing how bad these replicas can make you look.

A soccer team in coming-apart-at-the-seams shorts and shirts becomes a peculiar dance company. It’s a clever and funny spot that gets serious at the end by noting that pirated goods are manufactured under poor working conditions using inferior material. Buying faux Adidas will not only make you look ridiculous, it will make you socially irresponsible.