Argentina is not a large country in terms of population, and its local advertising market is quite minuscule in terms of billings.
But this country; long known for soccer, tango and a perennial state economic crisis; has scratched and clawed its way to a seat at the small VIP table of worldwide creativity, alongside other “big fish” like the US, the UK and Brazil.
This has been going on for decades and has really taken hold in the last 10 or so years. Take for example two nuggets from 2011:
- At Cannes 2011 in the “film” category, Argentina placed 2nd worldwide in the awards ranking, behind the juggernaut US, but ahead of Brazil (who placed third with almost 20 times the number of entries), and the UK.
- The AdAge 2011 International Agency of the Year award went to Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi. This is the second consecutive year this award is taken by an Argentine shop, as last year the winner was Santo.
In a future post we’ll explore how this all came to be through a combination of history, luck, economics, and wild ambition.
But today let’s take a look at the Argentine advertising style. A very particular look-and-feel for TV advertising that has become, over time, a recognizable visual “signature” around the ad world.
What are the elements of that prototypical Argentine TV ad?
- Quirky, edgy humor
- Off-beat looking people
- Retro cinematography
1. Quirky, edgy humor
It’s an odd thing in Argentina. At a time when consumers around the world are skipping commercials as best as they can, the Argentine viewers actually like TV advertising. In a movie theater, when the commercials go on before the movie, people pay attention. Tell a taxi driver you work in advertising, and he’ll start telling you what’s great and what sucks. It goes on and on. The tough part about this of course, is that the bar is set very high. People expect to be entertained.
That’s where humor-with-an-edge comes in. It’s meant to break through the clutter, really connect (or repel!), and get people talking. Much more European than American in tonality, it’s racy and often cuts right to the bone. Makes one squirm? Sometimes. But does it entertain? Oh yes.
Check out this great example from Sprite, by Ogilvy. The tagline for the campaign was “Las Cosas Como Son”, or “Things…the way they really are”. It was all about being authentic, to the max. If you don’t understand Spanish, read the translation before you see the ad. This particular ad is called “your friend…he wants you”.
Sprite – “Your friend wants you”.
Translation: Hey you…Sprite has got something to tell you. Your friend…he wants you. Look, behind that bad “friend” disguise, is a cauldron of hormones that is waiting to pounce…waiting for you to have one moment of weakness. Massages, caresses, inadvertent brushes…any excuse is good in order to touch you. Where did you get that naïve idea that he is your friend? He’s already got a whole bunch of friends, and they have hairy legs! You think he understands you…nah, he’s just picturing you without your clothes on. Even so, you’d do anything for him…and he…he’d do you. Because he wants you. Things, the way they really are.
Another great example is the Spot below for Axe, by Ponce. Entitled “Premature Perspiration”, it’s just not the type of ad you’d catch on a commercial break during American Idol, or anyplace in the US for that matter.
Axe – “Premature Perspiration”
2. Off-beat, interesting looking people (and I’m being charitable here)
Argentina is known for its obsession for physical beauty, but they sure do find the weirdest people around for their advertising, particularly when depicting the young male. If you are extremely quirky looking, you’ve got a good shot at modeling in Argentina. The hairstyles alone in are worth their own post.
It’s well accepted that if the production is filmed for use outside of Argentina, the actors are going to need to get a big-time haircut before the shooting starts, at the very least.
Here’s an example from Club Social, by Draftfcb. Check out our friend on second 10.
Club Social – “Blind Test”
Or check out the merry band of soccer teammates from this hilarious spot for Quilmes, by Y&R
Quilmes – “Futbol 5”
Rough translation: These teammates are tearing into each other following a bad defeat during their soccer game. Unknowingly they step into the Aphrodisiac restaurant, and after digging into their food…everything changes…this is the priceless dialogue that follows:
“Umm, you know…you guys are my dream team”…“You know, I feel so much love for you guys…that I’m going to burst!”…“You chubby, you are the goalie of my life. You pick me up when I’m feeling down”…“I banged your sister…so I could be a part of your family! Brother-in-law!”…“Hey, waiter…I’m so…so HAPPY!!”
A dinner. A reunion. A Quilmes.
Click here to read – part 2 of 2, where we look at the retro cinematography, a movie reference that I think ties it all together, and some other tasty bits.