Agency: Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar, Noble & Associates, San Antonio
Ad Review rating: 1 star
It's the revenge of the Frito Bandito. From Bud Light and Sosa, Bromley, Aguilar, Noble & Associates, San Antonio, comes a campaign that attempts to gently spoof the clash of Anglo and Latino cultures, but which does so essentially by trashing the Anglos. "Ready to order?" asks the proprietor of a Mexican food joint, to open one of four spots.
"Fa-ji-tas . . . Carn-i-tas . . . Por-di-tas . . . Lin-gui-tas," two young white guys sputter. Then turning away from the counter and spying a pretty young woman, they add, with wide eyes, "Sen-or-itas!" Then, the first bite of lunch kicks in, and apparently they've hit the chilies, and they turn bright red and get very desperate looking. "Y-y-y-yo quiero Bud Light!" one shouts. He wants a Bud Light.
"In Texas," says the voice-over in Spanish, "there are people who would do anything for a Bud Light, because Bud Light makes the good times better." Later the goofy guys are pouring another beer and inquiring about one of the dishes they've eaten. "Que es linguita?" The answer is beef tongue, but the Hispanic proprietor knows this concept is beyond the limited imagination of these clueless Anglos, so, with the cook giggling behind him, he replies, "Chicken." Ah, yes. White Men Can't Dine.
In another spot, the boys are watching Spanish-language TV and see a Bud Light commercial filled with music, dancing, gorgeous babes and lots of beer. The very thought of beer makes them ecstatic. "Ohhh, man," one says. "It must be cool to be Hispanic." So they decide to be Hispanic, by showing up at a bar and ordering alcohol to impress the babes. Now that's interesting. By showing these buffoons associating Latino life only with night life, the ad actually manages to be racist in two cultures. Not maliciously racist. It's more innocent, like using a cartoon bandito that plays inadvertently--but undeniably--to a stereotype of dishonesty.
Are we oversensitive? What if this were, say, a Corona ad that portrayed a pair of Chicanos as beer-addled morons trying desperately to assimilate into Anglo culture by speaking bad English and trying to pick up white babes? The spot would air once before the Hispanic boycott of Corona began. And we'd be leading the protest. Obviously, in relationships where one side is powerful and the other is relatively weak, the rules of satirical engagement favor the weaker side. But still, when it comes to ethnic stereotypes, what's no good for the goose is also no good for the gander.
Give a guy a media company, slap his name on the door and he thinks he has the monopoly on perspicacity. In his column on Page 22 of the Dec. 16 issue, Editor in Chief and corporate President Rance Crain ridicules our discomfort with advertising pre-emption, which we hold to be fundamentally misleading even in its most innocuous forms. May we remind His Ranceness that the implication of exclusivity where no exclusivity exists--even if based on a technical truth--is still dishonest? Are we to assume then that Mr. Crain is a proponent of dishonest advertising? Of course not, but that's why he employs an Ad Review staff: to wrestle with difficult issues so that he can better use his time managing his business, instead of sticking his nose in ours.
Copyright December 1996, Crain Communications Inc.