Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Hispanic Advertising Awards

Report from Miami:
The level of the winners of the AHAA Ad Age Hispanic Awards this year was consistently high and most of them displayed sophisticated, rigorous creative thinking. None of the ads seemed silly or half baked, which has been the case with some entries in previous years. Quite the contrary, the respect afforded to language and craftsmanship, to thorough creative thinking and quality executions is very encouraging. All of the winners seem to belong in the same range of quality. Moreover, most of the winners are based on actual Hispanic insight. They pass the test of "why is this Hispanic?" with flying colors. This is very good news. It shows that our niche market certainly has room for a high level of creative excellence that still delivers on our cultural nuance.
There were two Best of Shows (which as someone pointed out, is sort of oxymoronic). One was the campaign by Lápiz for Pepto Bismol, a wry take on the foods you love that hurt you (a Spanish pun on hurting both your stomach and your feelings). They are funny and insightful, but talking to Lawrence Klinger, Lápiz's Chief Creative Officer, I mentioned that cheesecake is not necessarily hard on the stomach. He concurred and told me that there will be more challenging foods in the next iterations of the campaign. This is a campaign that could easily play in any Spanish speaking country; even in any country where people love to eat heavy, demanding foods.

It's always good to see women on the stage, and I don't mean the models who give out the prizes and who still, in the dawn of the 21st Century, get whistles from our boys in the audience. I mean female creatives. The fact that an openly gay creative director also gets whistled at really gives one pause. Perhaps we can leave that sort of atavistic, puerile machismo behind? Some day?
Remember Little Lulu's friend Toby who would not let girls into his treehouse? This problem is rampant in advertising in general. And the Hispanic agencies are no exception. We need to see more mixed creative teams which are not "El Club de Toby", like the Lápiz winning team.

The other Best of Show winner was a single ad by Latinworks, for the Cine Las Américas film festival, a hilarious use of real footage of President Menem of Argentina giving a bizarre speech about Argentinian spaceships. The tagline: "if this is our reality, just imagine our movies". The campaign includes other surreal executions like Hugo Chávez talking about getting coca leaves from Evo Morales. It is smart and simple and brilliant.
My other favorites were Adrenalina's wonderful spots for Tecate, which are the strategy come to life but with great casting, excellent direction and a smart, infectious sense of humor. The Mexican parents of a young guy read him the riot act about his drinking bad light beer, instead of Tecate. I particularly liked how Adrenalina integrated radio into the campaign. They could have lifted the dialogue from the TV spots but they created a hilarious ad with a long funny disclaimer about who is not to drink Tecate. Very macho, but that's the beer drinking target. My feeling was that this campaign was flawlessly executed and right on strategy and was a strong contender for Best of Show, but my hunch is that it was too Mexican. Lately, a lot of the best creative seems directed to (and acted by people who look like) the people who come up with it, rather than the actual consumers. Thus, the Tecate campaign has merit for being right on target and still being creative and funny. After the controversial DDB Brazil WWF fake ad, it behooves agencies and award shows alike to take a hard look at creative pieces and make sure they are intended to work in the real world, not just to win awards.
My feeling however, is that there were no "truchos" among the winners this year. The work felt refreshingly honest.
Another great campaign was Grupo Gallegos' campaign for Latin Cable Comcast. It's a very clever spin on preferring to watch TV in language rather than with subtitles. It demonstrates the superiority of in language communications simply and hilariously and it found an ingenious way of translating the very visual concept into radio.
I also liked The Vidal Partnership NFL ad where a guy asks what's a yard and his friend responds with a poem to the game and then shows him with his hands the actual length. Again, it shows Hispanic insight in a clever, creative way.

I will say one thing that drives me crazy: when agencies win CREATIVE awards and instead of sending their creative teams to the show, they send some account executive who has no business being on that stage. It takes the creatives of such agencies blood, sweat and tears to come up with those spots, let alone sell them through the line, and convince the agency to spring the money to enter award shows. They deserve respect and recognition from their creative peers.

As the winners celebrated, I thought that Hispanic agencies (at least the ones who win awards) have come a long way. Yet after over 16 years of working in this market I find it amazing that we still have many hurdles to overcome when convincing clients to advertise to Hispanics. It's as if the agencies have grown creatively in leaps and bounds, yet many clients are still taking baby steps. No matter how much marketing research belies the Latino spending power, many clients are still wary of putting their marketing dollars into Hispanic efforts. These days, the appalling anti-immigration rhetoric is not helping our cause, which is all the more reason to fight harder for brand solidarity and visibility. But at least it's encouraging to know that there are agencies out there doing stellar work, in spite of all the hardships.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to all the winners and I really do admire their works.
    Thanks for sharing your insights and more power.

    Direct response expert