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When mastercard International started creating a Latin American campaign, it found its tagline, "One currency," was a good way to look at Latin America's language.

The Miami division will break Latin America ads by Foote, Cone & Belding Latin America this summer. For now, it's dubbing a U.S. spot into Spanish and Portuguese and beaming it to a potential audience of 400 million.

The ad's neutral international images fit the region well, said Gabriel Alvarez, MasterCard International's senior VP-marketing and PR. "For us, it's pretty easy because it's international utility that we are selling," he said.

Culturally homogeneous and bonded by one language (save Brazil), Latin America increasingly is becoming the target of pan-regional ads. Satellite and cable systems opening lucrative upscale pockets are raising the prospects of extended reach for international marketers.

Print's impact as a pan-regional medium is less effective than TV's, said Grace Palacios-Will, president-CEO of Charney/Palacios & Co., a Miami-based print media rep.

Challenging the regional bias is International Data Group, which started PC World Latin America a year ago. Its nine editions generate 70% of editorial in IDG's Miami office, also handling U.S. and pan-regional ad sales. Local sales are left to country managers.

"Clients were saying the price of advertising in Latin America is relatively low, but [they were using] 20 publications with different sizes and shapes," said Frank Cutitta, president-IDG International Marketing Services. "By standardizing ads, they can put more money into media."

For marketers using an internationally broadcast TV network, a pan-regional buy is far more cost-effective than multiple ad buys in existing systems throughout each country.

"There's very little waste in the pan-regional buy," said Mr. Alvarez, whose company added pan-regional advertising four years ago. "It's just a new opportunity that satellite technology brought to us."

Marketers are getting more than mere access: The typical cable or satellite subscriber has a higher disposable income than the non-cable home, said David Levy, senior VP-international sales with Turner International, New York.

The fewer than 16% of homes with cable or satellite represent more than 50% of the region's disposable income, a unifying factor that makes campaigns more effective and cost-efficient, according to the 1995 "Los Medios y Mercados de Latinoamerica," a market study conducted by Audits & Surveys Worldwide for Latin American Cable & Television Associated Programmers.

"You're buying a universe throughout Latin America that is much more targeted than TV," said Mr. Levy, whose division will open an ad sales office in Miami this spring.

The first spots beamed from the U.S. to Latin America were like MasterCard's last month: repositioned worldwide ads, translated for each market. Greater sophistication led to greater success, said David Zucker, senior VP-managing director with ESPN International.

"They are taking the concept much more seriously," he said. "It's no longer two guys who speak Spanish in the back room who do Latin America."

As competition in the international priority courier market has increased, Federal Express Corp. has expanded its media buys. FedEx has advertised in Latin America for 12 years but broke its first pan-regional campaign in 1994, said Deborah Van Valkenburgh, managing director-international marketing for Latin America and Caribbean division.

With the growth of niche programming, marketers can target specific groups. By using ESPN and the Discovery Channel, FedEx agency BBDO, New York, has hit specific demographics, Ms. Van Valkenburgh said.

FedEx's $300,000 annual media expenditure on ESPN International was bolstered this year with :30 Super Bowl promotional spots and outdoor ads, as well as a pan-regional Super Bowl sweepstakes. A promotion on Discovery let FedEx build consumer understanding of its service area worldwide.

Pan-regional messages don't replace the need for local campaigns and packaging. In 1995, Coca-Cola de Argentina replaced the Diet Coke name with Coke Light, lifting a medicinal stigma from the product. The local-vs.-national brand marketing management issue remains thorny for marketers; the ability to market pan-regionally doesn't mean marketers in-country will accept it. Companies operating in stronger markets often are more likely to resist pan-regional marketing.

Countries with the "critical mass," like Brazil or Argentina, will continue to see stronger media buys, said Dan Sayre, marketing director at Coca-Cola de Argentina.

Pan-regional buys can extend message consistency across borders. "It's a way to cement key brand values," one marketer said.

"Pan-regional doesn't replace local media," Ms. Van Valkenburgh said. "It's a way to skim that upper demographic."

Consistency is especially important in markets operating with regional economic agreements. The Mercosur customs union has united markets in Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. For marketers there, messages have to be unified, said Horacio Diez, president- Ogilvy & Mather Argentina, Buenos Aires.

"Shell has to be the same in Argentina for the truck driver coming from Brazil," he said.

While many network sales reps have good contacts with a marketer's Latin American division, ultimate decisions are often made from the headquarters. MTV Latino knew to sell market leaders on the merits of the market rather than ratings, said Damaris Valero, VP-sales with MTV Latino, which signed Anheuser-Busch Co., Eastman Kodak Co., Adidas, Kellogg Co., Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo.

"If anything, I knew how to counter-attack terrestrial," said Ms. Valero. "There's nothing like knowing your competition."

Pan-regional advertising is not right for all products, cautioned Mr. Zucker. Labeling or branding differences by market means some marketers can do little more than buy specific ad time or run image advertising.

But while terrestrial buys do more to move particular products locally, pan-regional messages take image across borders; the trade-offs sometimes are worth the investment.

"This is an alternative that brings fantastic economies of scale and a lot of synergy," said Mr. Alvarez.

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