Jose Cuervo Challenges Mexicans to Grow Bicentennial Mustaches

Meanwhile, in Argentina, Coke Celebrates Day for Amigos With Friendship Machine

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BUENOS AIRES ( -- Big brands have fun with their promotions in Latin America, where the Jose Cuervo tequila brand is challenging Mexicans to grow really big mustaches in honor of their country's bicentennial next month, and Coca-Cola celebrated Argentina's popular Friendship Day with a special vending machine so tall that it took a pair of friends working together to buy a soft drink.

Independent Mexico City agency Anonimo came up with the unusual bicentennial concept "Let's Celebrate 200 Years of Mustaches," playing off one of Mexico's most iconic national symbols, the macho-man mustache, as sported by revolutionary Pancho Villa.

Jose Cuervo is challenging Mexicans to grow mustaches as outrageous as possible before the Sept. 16 celebration. Encouraged by a big TV and outdoor ad campaign, contestants upload pictures of their mustachioed selves to Jose Cuervo's site. Bigote is Spanish for mustache, and the site has even invented a Spanish word bigotizar to describe the act of mustache growing. For those unable to grow a luxuriant mustache (women, for instance), Jose Cuervo says, "You can just paint it on your face."

The pictures are all posted on the site for voting, and the highest-scoring mustaches and their owners will be Jose Cuervo's guests for a trip to a bicentennial bash in the town of Tequila in Jalisco, Mexico. And everyone who uploads a photo will have his or her name printed on the label of the world's biggest tequila bottle, which will be presented on the bicentennial day and preserved as part of Mexico's history.

"This wouldn't have worked if it hadn't been linked to Cuervo's DNA," said Marco Colin, co-founder and chief creative director of Anonimo. The goal when the promotion started on July 15 was to have 4,000 mustache pictures uploaded by Sept. 16, he said. As of today, there are already 4,809 pictures on the site, and 1,309 votes have been cast.

Friendship Machine
In Argentina, Coca-Cola and its local agency, Ogilvy Argentina, recognized the importance of the widely celebrated El Dia del Amigo on July 20. Every year, brands struggle to come up with ways to capitalize on a day when Argentines flock to the streets with their friends and pack restaurants, malls and movie theaters in Buenos Aires.

Coke and Ogilvy created the Friendship Machine, a vending machine more than 11 feet tall that offers a special deal: two bottles of Coke for the price of one. But no one is tall enough to insert the money alone, so a friend is needed to boost the buyer high enough to reach the coin slot. Then they each get a bottle of Coke. The Friendship Machine was installed at a Cinemark movie theater, one of Argentina's biggest cinema chains, for one day.

"Discovering friendship from a really fresh new approach was our challenge," said Gaston Bigio, Ogilvy's Buenos Aires-based regional chief creative officer. "When we showed the idea to Coke's brand managers, they started laughing and said, 'Yes, let's do it.' Emotionally, we know that this is a really big day for our teenage consumers, so we decided to do the machine just for that day."

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About 1,900 friends in various combinations used the Friendship Machine. "It sold 800 bottles in only nine hours, while a standard vending machine normally sells 80 bottles within that period," said Alberto Velasco, marketing manager of Coca-Cola Argentina.

Rather than promoting the effort in advance, Coke decided to surprise the sell-out movie theater crowd. "We preferred to see peoples' reactions when they saw the huge Coca-Cola machine," Mr. Bigio said.

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