Mexico´s commercial communication industry caters to a population of 100 million. One year ago this market was estimated at 7 billion dollars, with an annual growth of 16%. The breakdown of advertising dollars spent is across a wide spectrum of marketing: 58.9% advertising, 15.2% promotions, 12.7% direct marketing, 5.4 % point of purchase, 5.4% research advertising, and 2.3% Public Relations. It should come as no surprise then that Mexico has a solid film industry, it exports television to more than 100 countries, and is well known for its literature and art. Although factually impressive, the dichotomy is that creativity in advertising is still in its adolescent stage.
In Mexico, four thousand television commercials are produced annually for the local market in addition to, on average, eight movies shot by the large American studios. Mexico has given production services to Hollywood since the 1950's, and with this, the TVC production market has grown consistently. It has become attractive not only to North Americans, but also to other production markets who bring in big players of the advertising world, such as TBWA Worldwide, BBH London, Happy, and Paranoid. Creative Director Juan Cabral’s latest commercial, produced by Blink and after selecting Mexico from a list of 14 countries, is now being filmed by the production service company The Lift.
Mexico is not necessarily considered a low-cost destination, despite the fact that it costs around 30% of what it would to shoot in Los Angeles. This country is atractive for two reasons: first, because it has high profile producers and crews, and because of its wide variety of locations: few other countries have beaches, jungles, mountains, deserts, colonial and modern cities with an ideal climate, at only a 3-hour flight from LA.
The country’s capital is one of the most popular locations, offering varied environments that range from the likes of Manhattan to Calcutta. Although it has a reputation of potential hostility, no incident of violence has been reported in the last two years. Even in the 90's Mexico was internationally considered a dangerous destination because of a small number of guerrillas in the South -- but today, even with some chaos based on the high population density, Mexico can be considered a safe country.
Mexican advertising has had a growing presence in festivals which has set a positive mood for the future. While it is true that there are high-quality spots being produced, everyday advertising is another story. Most of it does not reflect cultural identity nor the radical contrasts characteristic of this country, but instead tends to mirror the United States. For example, clients and consumers prefer blond models to the extent that not even the Dove campaign featured a middle-class Mexican woman.
Creatives complain about how complicated it is to sell innovative ideas, as clients usually ask to communicate basic and straightforward messages without subtext, irony, or narrative complexities. This makes sense as advertising is directed to an almost illiterate audience; only 2.8% of the population reads and 40% has never gone into a bookstore.
Television remains the most important media of mass communication, receiving 60% of advertising’s investments. On the other hand, small and large companies have explored new options of brand placement. Today, Mexico’s advertising can be found on tablecloths in restaurants, cinema seats, supermarket floors, buildings completely covered by it, and even valet parking companies place it on car windshields. Since these placements have not been well received by the consumer, advertisers have begun to move towards digital media, specifically the Internet and mobile phones.
There was a time when major national advertisers thrived in Mexico only to later merge with trans-nationals as the climate evolved. Currently, boutiques and creative agencies have re-surfaced on a smaller scale, such as Doble Vida and Oveja Negra, founded by Mexicans and an increasing number of foreigners. The current trend in Mexico is importing creative VP's and account directors from Venezuela, Spain, Uruguay, and especially from Argentina -- not because Mexico lacks talent, but because this is the second most important market in Latin America.