Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012

We still have the death penalty for treason in GB

Marketing Guatemalan products to Mexicans can be like selling Zion-branded bacon to the citizens of Tehran at the best of times. So perhaps one can just about sympathise with the brand manager who recently took the daring decision to do this...

It probably won't assuage indignant Chapines to know that the Castillo family, makers of the 'national' heirloom brew are descended from Bernal Díaz de Castillo , who had an important chunk of Mexican history behind him before ending up as Antigua's alcalde

Nor will they take much comfort from the fact that Pollo Campero also tries to pass itself off as an indigenous Mexican fast food chain...at least the one in Tapachula, Chiapas does. 

Alternative re-renderings of the Gallo brand have been suggested on Facebook and other social media platforms in order to coax it back from the edge of suicide...

In a sense Mexicanising Gallo has been just a logical expansionist step after the more granular approach represented by the regionally-flattering varieties already introduced. (I mean, surely there's a Guatemalan Quiko...or two?) 

But of course this is the time of year in which the nationalistic sentiments of many Chapines are naturally emboldened. And it's just that an unfortunate historical coincidence means that there is a similar opportunity to target lager-swilling patriots across the northern border, which the makers of 'nuestra cerveza' clearly fancied a tilt at. 

And perhaps the real problem here is that the Castillo company has decided to sell their twelve packs for a lot less than they can typically be purchased for down here...69 pinche pesos!

This furore takes me back to the days when I was tasked with explaining the interwebs to a collection of wine-soaked old school marketeers and PR practioners in the mid-90s. 

I recall the look of horror one adopted when he finally grasped the fact that the days of geographically-compartmentalised communications were coming to an end. He was soon taking us a trip down memory lane recounting the syrupy tale of a small crisis he had helped contain – the Danes had discovered that Head & Shoulders shampoo made your hair fall out, but thanks to his sterling efforts nobody else outside Denmark was any the wiser! 

Meanwhile here in Guatemala calls for a Gallo boycott may yet gather momentum. One doubts whether it could be sustained in a market with only two major brands, but the Brahva social media marketing team should be fired if they don't take full advantage! 

Meanwhile here is a handy guide to 100% Chapin products which may still be purchased with a clean conscience...

16th September Update: This just in...

Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves

Yesterday turned out to be a day that the bad guys of Antigua will want to forget  – our alcalde and various business associates were arrested for setting up a mutually beneficial system of public works contracts. As for the nice folk over at the La Reunion resort, well, this happened to them.

Still, the chaos and panic created by the morning's eruption has been exaggerated by the outside world's media. Fox reported "mass evacuations" and the BBC originally went with 30,000 people displaced, before reluctantly reducing the number this morning to 11,000 (and blaming their source for the earlier inflation). 

In the Prensa Libre today the lead story was the downfall of Adolfo Vivar not the volcanic eruption, which was given as much space as the launch of the new iPhone, news which had frankly already been left out in the sun for a while. 

This moment, which occurred around 10:15am yesterday was indeed very photogenic, but lasted not more than about 30 minutes. There were further substantial eruptions later in the day, but nothing of quite the same magnitude and things have calmed down considerably today. The authorities expect Fuego to fully 'stabilise' in the next 24 hours.

Meanwhile it is not especially clear who is now in charge of Antigua, or at least will be for the foreseeable future, now that we are apparently likely to be mayor-less. (It is somewhat improbable that Guatemala follows the IOC in awarding the cheater's vacant position to the second placed competitor, and we won't be holding our breath for a GB-style bi-election.) 

Yesterday we tried to pay our water bill, but con permisito was not enough to get us past the new set of security guards outside the Muni. 

All round, a day of almost unprecedented excitement here in Antigua, the stand-out adrenalin rush coming in the late afternoon when I installed the new Seagate 750GB 7200rpm/SSD hybrid drive in my Macbook Pro! 

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Bad Ads (2)

A timely reminder that rubbish advertising and design is not limited to these shores. Today my designer friend Tania was prompted to rant about the way Amazon.co.uk has chosen to showcase the latest iteration of the Kindle Fire, the first available in Britain: 

"The Vogue cover featured on the Kindle Fire (right) not only is June's cover but the image is stretched!! How can you sell something that is old (in fashion's terms, June is laaaaast season!) and doesn't fit in your reader? Are they stupid?"

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Bad Ads (1)

I'm back from my extended blog holiday, during which I took in the summer Olympics in London and a whole lot more, but somehow never felt particularly inclined to write about it all. 

Nevertheless, a new month is underway and there's a fresh edition of Qué Pasa out in various grabbable locations around town, so I thought it might be time to marvel at the quality of some of the local magazine advertising. 

Being bigger and, until recently, glossier than its nearest rival, Qué Pasa affords Guatemala's creative talent some unique opportunities in terms of high quality messaging...or so you'd think. 

So, I rather thought the name of this joint was 2x1 at first, but it turns out to be JG, JC or...something. 

A URL, Facebook page or simply adding the name of the restaurant to the address at the base might have cleared up this little doubt, but no. Perhaps name recognition is unimportant for an establishment where the USP is that it serves up different category of banal international junk cuisine every night of the week. 

Since the Luna de Miel creperie stopped selling itself with that revolting image of kids with their hands and faces smothered in chocolate, there has been a dearth of the unattractive persons stuffing their cakehole-style of advertising in Antigua. This has now been firmly addressed by El Cazador Italiano, which is actually quite a sophisticated Mediterranean-themed eating spot behind the cathedral. Not that you'd know it from this full page spread however. 'Why Not?' asks the copywriter of the kind of diner who might otherwise be wandering around our cobbled streets rolling a die outside each restaurant they come to. 

Veteran British comic Ben Elton long ago warned his peers against taking the piss out of ads that are ostensibly making fun of themselves (Ferrero Rocher etc.), and the second chunk of copy on this one might indeed be indicating to us that this particular piece of left-field creativity is some sort of elaborate in joke...the but of which has been the unfortunate owner of El Cazador. 

The trouble in the Kolibrí spread above is that the art director is way too smitten with the logo. This and white space are clearly more important to the creative in question than the images suggestive of food and ambience. The overall feel of this ad is therefore somehow corporate and lacking in personality, which the three inset photos, used differently, might have kept in check. 

Nothing much wrong with the photo and the layout here, but I am just not sure about the chef-proprietor vanity shot as a way of promoting niche cuisine to transients.  

This ad tells me that there's a nice view up top, but not what sort of food I can expect to accompany it other than the eponymous Tartines

As for the patrón, his presence here seems to say something like 'Our chef maybe a bit past his sell-by date, but our food isn't'. Or maybe, a bit more controversially, 'Our kitchen isn't run by Chapines'

The half-page ad has to stand out against at least one of its peers. 39 Azul however, has decided to opt for the counterintuitive approach and do their damnedest not to stand out. The copy fades diffidently into a miasmic ooze, leaving anyone not immediately drawn to the Café Condesa ad below none the wiser really as to whether this is a restaurant, a bar, a gallery, or perhaps even yet another spa. 

Style over content is the dominant theme over at Wokco. Sure it's the kind of grub anyone with a frying pan and a few vegetables lying around could knock up for themselves, but they won't be able to put it in a trendy orange cardboard box, will they? 

Reminds me a bit of the lema of Nikkori Sushi in Playa del Carmen: 'More than sushi, a life experience'. Unfortunately this tends to signal 'Less than sushi' to me. 

As for Gaia, nice ad, but given the demi-mondey feel of the image and the "Hooka Bar" tagline, stupid people are inevitably going to be confused. 

And this one brings to mind another establishment in Playa: the gym on 5a Avenida with POLE DANCING emblazoned above its main entrance.