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The history of advertising in Argentina dates to the beginnings of journalism in that country and the appearance of ads in the early issues of the first Argentinean newspaper, La Gaceta. In 1898, an Austrian, Juan Ravenscroft, formed the first ad agency after negotiating a contract with English railroad companies and began selling ad space in railroad stations and on trains.

In 1929, J. Walter Thompson Co. established the first U.S. ad agency in Argentina, inaugurating a new era in Argentinean advertising history. The arrival of other foreign shops, including Lintas and McCann-Erickson, further influenced the developing industry. The most influential of the country's ad executives, such as Manuel Marcelino Mortola and Ricardo Pueyrredon, were closely associated with some of those agencies.

The next phase in the evolution of the industry was marked by the appearance of national agencies, such as Berg, Ricardo De Luca, Pueyrredon, Agens, Yuste, Lino Palacio, Nexo, Vincit, Gowland, Castignani y Burd, Cicero and Solanas y Ortiz Scopesi. These national shops provided excellent training for many influential ad executives in Argentina, including Pablo Gowland and David Ratto, who developed their skills at Pueyrredon and greatly influenced Argentinean advertising in the 1960s.

Other important advertising ad executives at that time included Osvaldo Castagna, Carlos Mendez Mosquera, Juan Carlos Colonnese and Ricardo De Luca, who with colleagues Juan Carlos Martin, Julio Picco and Hugo Casares advanced the aesthetics of Argentinean advertising. Mr. Casares, who first worked at De Luca and later founded his own shop, Casares Grey, was instrumental in modernizing Argentinean ad practices.

Finally, in the 1990s, international companies such as Sony, Kodak, Coca-Cola, Philips, IBM, Xerox, General Electric, Toshiba, Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard arrived in Argentina. Advertising in that era was also influenced by new developments in photography, radio, TV and, eventually, computers.

Industry trends

Slogans were used commonly as early as the 1930s when Untisal developed a slogan for its foot powder that read "Donde lo pongan, calma" ("Wherever you put it, it soothes"). Rhymes also became popular and were widely used. In 1942, Lamota, a clothing store, created the slogan "Casa Lamota, donde se viste Carlota" ("Lamota, where we dress Carlota").

Other popular slogans included: "A usted lo beneficia . . ." ("You are our beneficiary . . ."), created by Banco Galicia in the 1950s and still popular in ads promoting banks; "Cada día una copita" ("Every day a little zip"), developed by Jockey Club in 1956; and "Junto a las mejores cosas de la vida" ("Accompanying the best things in life"), created by Otard Dupuy in 1968.

In 1900, Avelino Cabezas featured President Julio A. Roca and his cabinet as the first celebrities to promote clothing in an Argentinean ad campaign. Later, pilots (Carlos Zatuszek in 1934 and Raul Riganti in 1945), soccer players (Rene Pontoni in 1949 and Angel Labruna and Jose M. Moreno in 1950) and movie stars (Olinda Bozan in 1931, Luisa Vehil in 1939 and Amanda Ledesma in 1940) appeared in ad campaigns. Lever Brothers developed one of the most effective campaigns for Lux soap featuring celebrities such as Joan Crawford in 1930, Uruguayan actress Fanny Navarro in 1940 and Ava Gardner in 1951.

In the 1990s, Argentinean advertising experienced a renaissance in creativity. According to the Asociación Argentina de Agencias de Publicidad (AAAP; Argentine Association of Advertising Agencies), total advertising expenditures in 1998 reached $3.37 billion, which represented a 2.9% increase over 1997.

Consumer culture

Advertising in Argentina has had a tremendous impact on consumer culture, as evidenced by the success of Coca-Cola. The soft-drink marketer used powerful advertising such as the "El Sabor de Verdad" ("Real Taste") campaign, which has attracted many consumers. Even though its main competitor, Torasso, uses the slogan "El sabor argentino" ("Argentinean taste") as its theme, Argentineans associate their country with Coca-Cola. In some remote areas where people lack running water, Coca-Cola is distributed by mule.

Many products in Argentina are advertised with English names and slogans because American goods are considered trendsetting and prestigious. One may find a brand of soft drink called Spill or a shoe and clothing store in downtown Tucumán called El Sportsman Drugstore. Some stores carry names that are a blend of Spanish and English words, an attempt to combine the local culture with an American image. Examples of such linguistic hybrids include names that end in "landia," such as Radiolandia or Todolandia. The latter can be translated as "the place where you can do everything."

The media

The most important ad medium in Argentina has been TV, which accounts for the greatest ad expenditures, followed by print and radio. Prices for TV advertising in Argentina are negotiable and, due to fierce competition among broadcasters, prices for TV advertising in Buenos Aires are lower than at some provincial stations that have a local monopoly.

Newspapers are a popular ad medium as they reach a wide audience. Approximately 60% of all copies of daily newspapers are distributed in Buenos Aires and about 40% in the provinces. In the mid-1990s, there were about 160 daily newspapers in circulation; Clarín, Cronista Comercial, La Nación, La Prensa, La Razón and Ambito Financiero were the most popular.

Magazines are a less sought-after medium, as magazine ads are comparatively expensive. The cost per page in the largest-circulation publication may be as high as $17,200. In the second-tier magazines, costs may range from $8,000 to $10,000 per page. In terms of circulation, the leading magazines include Viva, Nueva, Magazine Semanal and Nuestra.

Advertising in other media such as radio and movie theaters is less popular. However, radio advertising in Argentina is an effective way to reach groups who do not own TVs. During the late 1990s, consumers tended to switch from AM to FM stations.

Billboard advertising has been rediscovered in Argentina with the help of costly technology introduced in 1998. An award-winning Argentinean advertising agency, Agulla & Baccetti, created a revolutionary billboard for Renault that pictured a man driving a Renault convertible. The man's head contained holes with turbines that made his hair move and created the impression that the hair was waving in the wind.

In the late 1990s, Argentinean billboard advertising was employing the latest developments—front-lighting, backlighting, the use of fabric and moving parts.

Self-adhesive ads on buses also are being used with increasing frequency. Ad agencies such as Stick! have utilized this type of promotion to advertise the Siembra Pension Fund and the Swiss food giant Nestlé. The two companies paid $4,000 a month to have 320 square feet of advertising affixed to buses that travel the most popular routes in Buenos Aires.

By the end of the 20th century, some citizens' groups and city officials were concerned about the spread of advertising in Argentina. In May 1998, after Gregorio Dalbon, president of Family Members of Victims of Traffic Accidents, successfully sued the city of Buenos Aires, Argentina's Supreme Court ruled that 380 billboards would have to be removed from the highway that connects the city to its most exclusive suburbs. Mr. Dalbon argued that ads featuring dinosaurs and three-dimensional clay figures were distracting drivers' attention and making the highway one of the most dangerous roads in Argentina. Advertising must now be placed at least 160 feet from a highway.

There was also a growing trend toward the consolidation of media by large conglomerates in Argentina. In 1997, a merger was negotiated among U.S. Citibank, Telefónica Internacional SA (the international arm of Telefónica de Espana) and the U.S. cable programmer Telecommunications International. Together with Grupo Clarín and Grupo Uno, these represented the major media giants at the end of the 1990s.

The agency landscape

A number of local agencies offer advertising services and provide market research information. In October 1999, Euro RSCG Worldwide acquired Lautrec, a major agency founded in 1974 by Gianni Gasparini and Raul Salles. Lautrec had long been successful because of its creativity and the quality of its services. The client portfolio of the merged entity included companies such as Peugeot, Citroën, Budweiser, Philips, Telefónica, Consolidar, Banco Galicia and the dairy products marketer La Serenisima.

In terms of creativity, the most honored agency at the end of the 20th century was Agulla & Baccetti, a Buenos Aires shop founded by Mr. Agulla and Carlos Baccetti in 1994. The agency's clients include Renault Argentina SA and Cervecería Quilmes SA.

Among other important local and foreign ad agencies in Argentina in the 1990s were ADV Vazquez SA de Publicidad, JWT, Y&R Argentina, Pragma FCB Publicidad, McCann-Erickson SA de Publicidad, Ratto/ BBDO, Casares Grey, Lautrec Euro RSCG, Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi, Leo Burnett Co. and Ogilvy & Mather.

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