“I was only looking at the billboards.”
This is what I thought when I first saw the flashing police lights. The Peruvian police officer who pulled me over, with weapons on his hip, could see my fear. As he looked me up and down, he barked “Ven conmigo”, commanding me to get out of the car. I turned off the engine and slowly climbed out of the Renault wondering if this might be one of many lessons to learn from my experience from over a month working in Latin America.
The Failed Advertising Pitch
I still remember the rejection feedback we received from our lost proposal, “Not enough local expertise.” Just two months earlier our agency, Nativa, had lost an RFP for a pitch for a global hospitality company that was concerned with our lack of feet on the ground in Latin America. The brand rightly wanted to select a firm that employed a team with significant expertise working in their targeted regions. To resolve this for future pitches, I spent February of this year working in Lima, visiting Peruvian ad agencies by morning, and commuting via video conference in the evenings with my U.S. colleagues.
Working with Latin American Ad Agencies
From these experiences working with Latin American ad agencies, I learned 5 important lessons, which I would like to share below.
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Hola Lima! As we pitch on increased LATAM projects, we are in search of LATAM partners. This week finds Nativa partner Eric Diaz in Lima, Peru meeting with various top digital and advertising agencies in the city of kings 🇵🇪 #Peru #USA #AdvertisingAgency #Partners #LATAM #AgencyLife
Pictured above: Proof that I actually was working in Lima.
1. Be on time
2. Out of Home (OOH) Advertising is exponentially more Bad@ss than in the U.S.
3. Multicultural marketing strategy in Latin America is very different
As our work at Nativa is often very focused on multicultural groups, I wondered how the multicultural audience is communicated to within Peru, which is defined as 60% mestizo1, 22% Quechua, 6% white, 4% black, and 4% Asian. I was educated by my agency colleagues that in general, agencies and brands segment consumers by 5 socioeconomic status levels and that the top two highest economic classes of people are what would be most similar to the US middle class, with a significantly higher median income than the bottom 3 levels. Overall, the Peruvian GDP per capita at $14,719, is about 23% of that in the U.S. The bottom three economic classes of Peruvians collectively have very significant purchasing power but individually are part of the 20% of the Peruvian population who are considered in poverty. The ad executives further explained that the main differences in marketing are really focused on the different socioeconomic status levels that people are within, rather than by ethnicity. I found this very interesting overall, and with some similarity to how agencies in the U.S. market to certain specific non-Hispanic ethnicities.
4. Think outside the box when it comes to Ads
I was amazed at how often I would notice advertising, frankly where I did not expect to see them. On a stroll to the central square in downtown Lima, there is advertising everywhere. In fact, there is a consistent stream of human billboards that walk around with a mix of professional and ad-hoc structures to support the advertising they are carrying on their body.
Additionally, when at the important cultural event celebrating La Virgen de Candelaria in Puno, Peru, I was impressed with the improvised advertising I would see on rooftops, far off, but still visible from the main event. See image taken from the event below.
I was instructed by my agency colleagues that outside the box works well within the Peruvian advertising market and that as the quantity of people connected to the internet is increasing by 10% every year, it is increasingly important for digital ads in Peru, which currently make up 20% of ad budget spend.
5. You can Negotiate on Almost Anything