Pushing Boundaries and Touching Passion Points

What Makes Us Laugh?

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New Mexico: Cleaner Than Regular Mexico
New Mexico: Cleaner Than Regular Mexico
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Forget for one second all you know (or think you know) about Mexicans and our culture. Here's a puzzling thought: how come Mexicans -- on both sides of the border -- seem to be more comfortable wearing this T-shirt (at left) than non-Mexicans? Why did this controversial piece of clothing created by Urban Outfitters and reading "New Mexico, Cleaner than Regular Mexico" became so popular among those who were supposed to be offended by it? Are we just not getting the PC message? Are we simply too cynical to even begin to worry about what PC is all about? Do we even know what PC stands for?

The answers to these questions can be found in the work of Edoardo Chavarín, the Tijuana-born founder of NaCo, the company he founded with partner Robby Vient, to celebrate -- in their own personal, irreverent way -- the coolness of being, well, uncool, or in other words, the coolness of being naco (tacky). The above T-shirt is not a creation of NaCo, but it could very well have been: NaCo's T-shirts created quite a stir earlier this year when Macy's pulled a NaCo T-shirt from its shelves reading "Brown is the new white."

Laura Martinez Laura Martinez
Chavarín delivered a well-articulated, culturally charged, keynote speech at last week's 23rd semi-annual AHAA conference in New York, establishing an emotional connection not only through his amazing creative skills but also as a mold-breaker. He is someone who is determined to push boundaries and walls until they fall -- or as Edoardo likes to say himself -- until they begin to crumble. I know for sure some of the attendees missed out on some of NaCo's most brilliant creations (Pecsi, Ser naco es chido, Oceanica Resort & Spa, Mi Amado Carrillo, etc.) But overall the audience seemed to get the message: Chavarín's (and NaCo's) promise was ultimately not very different from what AHAA set out to do at this year's conference: to embrace fearlessness by asking over 500 attendees one single, provocative question: "Is Hispanic Advertising Dead?"

Of course Hispanic advertising is not dead. In fact, as my fellow Big Tent blogger Carol Watson pointed out this week: this year's gathering set out to ignite debate, encouraging agencies and clients to "continue to search for answers that are not easily uncovered." Personally, I thought Chavarín's speech was the perfect example of this fresh breath of air and helped raise one important point: Can media, marketers and agencies accommodate him and his ideas? Is there a space in the Hispanic market for NaCo, and/or other irreverent boundary-pushers like them to showcase their ideas to a broader, massive audience, one that is not tainted by political correctness?

I guess that, just as happened at the AHAA conference, there are still many more questions than answers, but what matters is that a lot of people are asking the right questions. In the end, multicultural or not, media must work hard to identify and connect with consumers' passion points (regardless of language). Chavarín's genius goes well beyond the mere design of T-shirts and CD covers. He connects with a growing audience of bicultural, bilingual, acculturated (and even the not-so-acculturated-crowd) using the language of pop culture, or perhaps simply what makes us laugh.

If media properties, brand marketers and ad agencies were really paying attention (and I'm sure they were), we will see more ideas like those coming from Mr. Chavarín and his NaCo brand pushing boundaries and touching passion points.

Am I wrong or is that not what marketing is all about?

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Read more from Laura daily at Mi Blog Es Tu Blog.
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