Anyone who’s spent any time watching Argentine TV knows that Argentine creatives are fantastic. The country has some of the best creative ad designers on the planet. Argentine ad agencies consistently do well at international competitions and local creatives have gained remarkable reputations in the advertising world.
One of the best is Juan Cabral, the man behind what is easily one of the greatest ads ever created, the Cadbury gorilla commercial (see above). Barring Alzheimer’s or alcohol, the commercial is impossible to forget. It starts with an intense, emotionally powerful close-up of the gorilla’s face. You see the gorilla breathing deeply, preparing himself emotionally and physically for what is about to take place. As he breathes and concentrates – practically meditates – the viewer becomes enveloped in the moment in a way that is highly uncommon in TV ads. You almost become part of the moment, sharing in his act of preparation and expectation.
Then, at just the right moment, once the gorilla seems to have taken on a surreal human-like quality, and once you are anticipating the moment almost as intensely as he is, the pounding percussive trance begins. You are now so enveloped in the commercial, so taken in by its unusual mixture of oddity, emotion, entertainment, animal connection and rhythm that it’s hard to turn away. It’s one of few commercials that truly invites continued viewing and wonder. The YouTube version here doesn’t do it justice. But it’s good enough for you to get the point.
Based in Buenos Aires, Cabral works for Fallon, the London-based ad agency. Among other ads he is known for are the Sony Bravia series spots such as this “paint” one, this “bouncing ball” one and this Play-doh one.
You can see more of his work here (sign-up required).
UPDATE: A point I forgot to mention here is that even while I loved and couldn’t forget the gorilla commercial, I couldn’t remember what it was actually advertising. I remembered the gorilla but forgot the Cadbury. Which makes me wonder how effective creative advertising such as this actually is. After all, if I couldn’t even remember the product being advertised, was the ad itself really effective? Perhaps the more creative an ad is – that is, the more it distracts you from thoughts of the product being promoted – the less effective the ad is.
Cristina Fernández has been vilified by many people for many reasons. She’s the least popular president since Fernando de la Rua fled the Casa Rosada in a helicopter in 2001. She seems to aid her detractors by constantly clashing with those who disagree with her, labeling them not just as wrong or wrongheaded but as undemocratic “coupmongers.” She seems to favor confrontation over consensus, and it is hard to find political analysts who say she leads by the power of her ideas. Her persuasive power has always come from the power of her purse, so to speak. In this sense, her administration is little different from that of her predecessor and husband, the always combative Néstor Kirchner.
Meanwhile, as president, Fernández’s record in Congress is one less characterized by dialog and debate than by the imposition and passage of bills in unplanned rapid-fire sessions. A case in point was the decision to nationalize the country’s 14-year-old pension fund system. The system, which took years to build, was destroyed, for good or bad, almost overnight, with exceptionally scarce debate about the long-term consequences of doing so. To outside observers, the breakneck speed with which Congress eliminated millions of peoples’ private pensions was stunning, so stunning that it led fearful investors to withdraw billions of dollars from the Argentine financial system.
Every six months or so local newspapers like Clarín and La Nación write stories about foreigners living in Argentina. The articles usually refer to expats who have blogs or own businesses here. La Nación has had two such pieces so far this year and Clarín has just come out with this one.
The premise of Clarin’s story, if one can call it that, is that Americans are fleeing the crisis-ridden U.S. to escape to Argentina. Clarín’s evidence: a few interviews and immigration data that show a 12% increase in the number of Americans (742) who applied for permanent residency last year.
But most Americans didn’t really start to feel or think about the financial crisis until the fall of 2008. Clarín doesn’t break the immigration data down by months or quarters, so it’s hard to know, from the data, if more people really started immigrating to Argentina because of meltdown on Wall Street.
Meanwhile, the upward trend in immigration to Argentina started in 2002-2003, when Argentina suddenly became a cheap place to live. Immigration to Argentina was rising even when the U.S. economy was still booming.
Nonetheless, it would surprise nobody if the U.S. crisis has led to an uptick in American emigration. (On a related note, I also know of Americans here who say Barack Obama’s election has made them want to move back to the U.S.)
In any case, Argentina is a great place to be for multiple reasons, not just because it’s comparatively inexpensive. (I first came here in 1995, when Argentina was the opposite of cheap, but it was fabulous nevertheless.) Still, the local stories about foreigners always seem to have the same feel, they often quote the same people, and they nearly always talk about the exchange rate. Typically, the stories are neither original, insightful or even particularly interesting. This time, however, Clarín included a video, in English, in which its foreign subjects discuss some of their reasons for making the move. You can see the video (and the rest of the article) here.
*Kudos to Brian Byrnes for passing this along.
A friend of The Argentine Post submitted this photo of the classic product “Assy,” a cure for lice (“piojos”) It’s one of a growing list of hilarious, if poorly-conceived product names. This one even comes with a fine steel comb to force those little buggers out.
“Assy, It’s Classy!”
By Alexandra Salas
BAFICI (Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cine Independiente) has announced the line up for its 11th annual film festival, which begins on March 25 and runs through April 5. The Opening Night Film, Gigante, directed by Adrian Biniez, is an Argentine/Uruguayan co-production that garnered three awards at the prestigious Berlin Film Festival this year.
The jury for the International Section of Competition includes acclaimed director Claire Denis, screenwriter/writer Alan Pauls, film critic Kent Jones, actor Alberto Barbera and producer Jaime Romandia. The Argentine films in contention for the International Prize include Julia Solomonoff’s sophomore debut, El ultimo verano de la Boyita, Matías Piñeiro’s Todos mienten and Iván Fund’s La risa.
The festival will screen 417 films in cinemas throughout the city. Tickets can be purchased online between March 18–25 at www.festivales.gob.ar or at the following locations from 10am to 22hrs:
Casa de la Cultura (Av, De Mayo 575 PB)
Hoyts Abasto (Av. Corrientes 3247, Abasto Shopping)
Hard Rock Café (Av. Pueyrredón 2101, Recoleta)
The Argentine Post will be providing coverage of the festival with film party photos, interviews and reviews.
For more information about the festival, scheduling and screenings, please visit: www.bafici.gov.ar
*Alexandra Salas is a writer based in Buenos Aires
President Cristina Fernández, never wimpish about rocking the political establishment, said Friday she will ask Congress to move its national election four months ahead of schedule. In a bold move that was immediately seen as a sign of her administration’s weakness amid the global economic crisis, Fernández called for the election to be held on June 28 instead of in late October.
Fernández said the move aims to bolster the country’s ability to deal with a “grave” economic crisis. “It would be almost suicidal to have everyone engaging in political battles when the world is falling into pieces,” Fernández said, adding that the world economy is “a disaster.”
Congress must first approve the plan with a simple majority vote. For more details and background, click here for a WSJ story that my colleagues and I did Friday. Meantime, here are some possible interpretations of the move:
In yet another indication that Argentina is suffering from the global economic meltdown, international tourism tanked in January, making this the fourth consecutive year-on-year decline since October.
The number of visitors fell 9.2% from the same month a year ago to 229,997. The amount of money they spent while here also fell 13.4% to $312 million, the national statistics agency, INDEC, reported Friday.
Fewer tourists are also spending fewer dollars. In January the average tourist spent $87.5 a day. Brazilians again spent the most ($132), followed by Chileans ($118), and Americans and Canadians ($120). Europeans spent the least at $72 a day.
Tourism actually rose 20.8% compared with the previous month, as did spending, which was up 18.2% from December. But while the month-on-month increase is certainly positive, it’s seasonal improvement that happens almost every year.
Tourism brings in about $4 billion annually to the Argentine economy, according to official estimates.
INDEC’s measurement is based on the number of visitors who arrive to the country via Ezeiza, or EZE, the airport located outside Buenos Aires. About half of the country’s tourists arrive through EZE.
This Sunday roughly half of Argentina will turn its clock back by one hour. The change comes as Argentina drops its five-month-old daylight savings plan and moves back to the GMT-3 time zone. The new time will put Argentina one hour ahead of Eastern Time in the U.S., four hours ahead of California and three hours behind London. Twelve provinces in the western half of Argentina never signed onto the daylight savings plan. To see a map of these, click here. Most provinces will keep their zones, ending Argentina’s dual zone system. But San Luis this week decided to rebel. It too will fall back an hour, putting it inline with New York and four hours behind London.
These are not the best of times for Argentine police. In the past three weeks at least three policeman have been killed in the line of duty. “It’s obvious and evident” that crime has gone up,” Buenos Aires Province Police Chief Juan Carlos Paggi said in a radio interview Thursday.
Paggi’s comments stand in stark contrast to remarks made the same day by Justice Minister Anibal Fernández.
“I don’t think we’re seeing more conflict now than we did 15 years ago,” Fernández said. Fifteen years ago? How about last year? It may be that crime is not on the rise and that, in reality, it just seems like things are getting worse.
But Fernández, a man who repeatedly has declined to provide statistical data to back up seemingly optimistic claims about crime, is not the most inspirational source of confidence on this issue.
Meanwhile, the statistics aren’t looking too good. Over the past few weeks roughly as many BA Province policemen – Bonaerense – were killed as died during half of 2008. That may be sheer coincidence or just very bad luck. Fernández says Argentina is much safer than other countries in the region and that may well be true. Buenos Aires is infinitely safer than Caracas and Rio, but that’s little consolation to people here who feel crime is getting worse.
One of the fun things about living here is seeing how people sometimes unintentionally misuse and abuse the English language. (The same thing happens in my small hometown in Colorado, USA, where people routinely butcher the Spanish language.) But this weekend I may have seen the funniest example yet. Had I been in a porn shop, everything would have made perfect sense. But I was in a hardware store, so the item on sale, a “McPussy” glass cleaner, seemed a bit out of place. Maybe it wasn’t just a hardware store after all? And no, I didn’t buy it!
By Dean Nicholas
Though tango may be the national dance, slow waltzes with the deceased remain a worrying trend in Argentina. Decades after the remains of Eva Peron were unceremoniously shunted around the globe, a row has erupted once again over the final resting place of the country’s most famous writer, Jorge Luis Borges.
Upon his death in 1986, Borges was interred in Plainpalais cemetery in Geneva, the city in which he passed away and one he visited countless times throughout his life.
Despite residing there peacefully for some 22 years, two weeks ago lawmaker Maria Beatriz Lenz opened a storm of controversy by declaring her intention to request that the writer’s earthly remains be repatriated to Buenos Aires, where they could be laid to rest in his family’s plot in Recoleta Cemetery. Borges’ widow Maria Kodama, a woman who some consider the Yoko Ono of Latin American intellectualism, has long claimed that the writer wished to be buried in Geneva, something that Borges’ biographer Alejandro Vaccaro, who supported Lenz’s move, strongly disagrees with.
The latest twist in this macabre tale came with the publication last week of a long-lost letter that Borges wrote during the weeks before his death from liver cancer. In the letter, Borges speaks of his joy at being an “invisble man” in Geneva, a city in which he confesses to feeling “mysteriously happy”. The letter confirmed that Borges himself wished to be laid to rest there, and Lenz has subsequently shelved her proposed request, but Vaccaro, who is also the president of the Argentine Society of Writers, will persist with the debate.
The motivation for this new polemic is a curiously Argentine cocktail of prestige, pesos, and patriotism. Though Borges’ love for his adopted European resting place is well-known, it is in Buenos Aires that he is adored. The simple fact is that Buenos Aires loves Borges as much as the writer did his birthplace, and for many, the absence of his earthly remains, in a city which glories in monuments to the dearly departed, is a cause of anguish, even humiliation. How could Borges have preferred that effete, cold European capital? Surely Kodama must have somehow tricked him into being buried there? Vaccaro nearly makes such an accusation, claiming recently that he has secret evidence indicating Borges himself wished to be buried in Recoleta, though he offered nothing to back this claim up beyond an interview with the writer that dates from the 1960s.
The public spat between Vaccaro and Kodama has rumbled along for years, though the involvement now of Lenz gives the story added weight. Neither party looks particularly clean: Vaccaro has long shown himself to be something of a Borges obsessive, despite never meeting the man in person, and allegedly released a series of fake texts ascribed to Borges into the public realm during the 1990s. Kodama, meanwhile, has repeatedly been accused of mis-management of the Fundación Internacional Jorge Luis Borges, and has never quite escaped the stigma of being the writer’s personal assistant for many years before their marriage. She was forced to fight a legal challenge over his estate in the early 1990s, and has claimed in the past that the question of transferring his remains has more to do with inheritance than tribute.
The irony is that Borges elected to remain in Geneva precisely to avoid just the political and media circus seen in recent weeks. For that reason alone, the poor man should be left to rest in peace and seclusion.
Link: Letter by Dying Borges Explained Fondness for Geneva
Link: Fascinating Color Borges Video Documentary
Borges photo courtesy of Popular Persons.
*Dean Nicholas is a British-born journalist, and a contributing editor for Londonist, one of London’s most popular websites. He is currently based in Buenos Aires.
Ceviche – Courtesy of Sipan
By Fiorella Donayre
Peruvian food visionary and leading Latin American chef Gaston Acurio will open his flagship restaurant Astrid & Gaston in Buenos Aires on March 6, joining a growing pool of top chefs bringing a slice of the foodie heaven that is Lima to the Argentine capital.
Charismatic and passionate, Gaston Acurio has a clear objective for his restaurant in Buenos Aires and his role in a process that goes beyond mere cooking.
“Our job is to bring Peruvian food to the most important cities in the world; it’s a way to promote our culture, what Peruvians know how to do best,” Acurio told The Argentine Post by telephone from Lima.
(Click here to see the full interview)
Peruvian cuisine is a mixture of cultures, much like Peru itself, with influences from Japan, China, Spain, as well as the Arab world and Africa. For Acurio this process is still evolving, that’s why the menu at Astrid & Gaston is a mix of tradition and fusion. “We continue to explore new ideas, new flavors that can help to enrich Peruvian food,” he said.
In this search, Acurio and his team traveled throughout Argentina, convinced that all good food must use quality fresh local produce, in this case Argentine meats from the Pampas and Patagonia, Andean vegetables from the northwest and seafood from the south.
With this local produce, his recipes and Peruvian “aji amarillo” – the yellow hot chili pepper is the only ingredient Acurio believes must be imported from his home country – the chef has devised the menu for Buenos Aires. It’s a formula that’s met with success in Bogota, Caracas, Madrid, Mexico City, Santiago and Quito.
Lomo Saltado Nikkei – Courtesy of Sipan
The Argentine Post visited Astrid & Gaston Buenos Aires a few weeks before its opening to get acquainted with the space and the menu.