May 27, 2010


When I’m traveling, there are several things I look for to get the pulse of the popular culture in a country. Among a few, for example, are the kind of street food that’s most popular, what’s stocked at the supermarkets, and the kind of advertising that is targeted at the general population.

Looking through images I had downloaded I found two examples of online advertising that had caught my attention because they are clues to what advertisers think will capture an Ecuadorean’s attention and imagination and get them to pull out their wallets.

I found both when checking my email account so these are targeted broadly, at people who use computers and have an email account. In terms of graphics they are nicely designed and wouldn’t stand out if I didn’t speak Spanish because it’s not the images but the text that startled me. In the one below, you can get a vague idea of its message by looking at it but I gasped when I read the copy, “Only a few men really know how to call out to women…be the envy of your (male) friends with the best catcalls”. Notice, in particular, the construction workers at the bottom of the ad.

Now, men who're reading this post may not quite get what’s so remarkable about this ad but if you’re a woman this ad is probably making you cringe. I’ve often wondered what on earth kind of reaction men who make rude comments at women on the street expect to get. Apparently, they just need to learn better ones to get the loving response of their dreams!

That kind of behavior does exist in Ecuador but it’s nothing compared to the constant stream you find in certain places--the streets of NYC, for example. I was actually surprised to see this ad aimed at Ecuadorean men, unless the demographic is teens who are driven by their out of control hormones! Going by this ad, machismo is alive and well and living in Ecuador. Right before I left I noticed an advertising campaign against machismo whose slogan is “Machismo is violence” so there’s certainly an awareness of the issue.

The appeal of the one above is more easily understood as the desire for money is fairly universal but I was still somewhat taken aback. The copy here reads: “ I invested only $200 and in 3 weeks it turned into $12,000. Today, after a few months I’ve made over $17,500.” The brilliance of this ad is that $200 is just about the right amount to tempt someone in Ecuador into investing. Large enough that it has value but small enough that once lost it won’t immediately persuade the investor to stop. I can only hope that no one is actually falling for these absurd claims. Turn $200 into $12,000 in 3 weeks. Yeah, right.

No comments: