(Approximate Reading time: 9 minutes)
As an alumnus of two Marketing related studies I am always interested about “How to connect to the customer”. If you are not Coca Cola, Adidas or Burger King and therefore far away from the relevant set, it might be quite difficult to reach the consumer. Because of this you will need to have a strong brand name to catch customers’ attention. Unfortunately the best seats are already taken, what a bummer! So why not trying it with the easy way? Very suboptimal idea as I will show you now with a couple of wonderful examples, that I have seen across my travels to South America.
We will start with some funny examples to show you why the easiest name isn’t always the best. In today’s edition I will try to fathom and comprehend why South American businessmen, entrepreneurs and companies are using a very obvious English salutation to stigmatize and brand their own products and service. Although the English level isn’t the highest amongst the population of several South American countries.
In the traditional South American culture the power isn’t equally distributed. Let’s just say, that men have ordinarily more to say then women in society, family, job, etc. Many structures, traditions and regimes are characterized by a the macho component. This shows up as well in the language itself, e.g. when talking about groups of people. You would not understand virtually the difference between the personal pronouns when talking about a group that only consists of men (‘Ellos’) and a mixed group of men and women (‘Ellos’). Regardless, if there are one man and 50 women you are talking about, you still call the whole group with the masculine personal pronoun. Only if talking about a group that exclusively consists of women, you would make a difference (‘Ellas’). But this is just one of the examples to explain the macho culture. Not all languages can be so easy as English, where to use the ‘You’ as a direct and indirect salutation and for groups irrespective of their gender.
Another reason next to the macho roots of South America might be the attempt to use the polite way to call someone. A ‘Mister’ simply sounds better and the influence of the United States in South America is still big. There are a lot of so called ‘Yankee Investors’ who take influence with their businesses, products and services to the local population. And a lot of businessmen want to be treated with respect and politeness when coming to the particular countries and cities. So there were a lot of ‘Misters’ around, that wanted to be treated politely.
But probably the most important reason is to enhance the product and give it a strong imagination. A product is plainly possible to embody and typify with a masculine character, a ‘Mister’. Finally it can be said, that the simple salutation might be one of the easiest words to remind when learning English. This word remained in a lot of memories, even if your English level is know you know what it means. A ‘Mister’ sounds strong with its American-syle or noble English way.
The biggest problem is, that it’s not original, nor quaint. There isn’t one very strong product that outshines it all, there are thousand smart entrepreneurs who thought, that it’s a good idea to call their products ‘Mr. PRODUCT’.In all sorts of markets and industries. It’s not quick-witted idea and can stand solely for quality. It only raises for a single moment the attention, but then every consumer has the “I have seen it already somewhere else” – feeling. And here is the biggest problem: It’s not unique and if they have seen it already somewhere else, it’s easy to replace with another product. Only if the quality is convincing, the consumer will remind the product. But not a name which exists with hundred other products.
I can’t imagine this type of branding in other languages. At least in Dutch or German it simply doesn’t work. Not because of a lack of politeness, but it simply wouldn’t work. But To give you a few examples, I will show a few screenshots I made during my travels in South America and will describe them a little bit.
Mr. Garfio – Lima, Peru
Mr. Garfio seems to be a copy of a mean Captain Morgan, but with beer instead of rum. But this Mister is not alcoholic product. Mr. Garfio is a nightclub/discotheque at Playa Pulpus, 40 km in the south of Lima. So at the end its maybe not an alcoholic product, but a service where alcohol is included.
Mr. Sushi – Lima, Peru
Here taken as a snapshot during a walk in the night, that’s why the lights blind a little bit. Mr. Sushi offers (of course as the clue is already in the name) the traditional Japanese dish with raw fish. I couldn’t find an exact figure about the quantity of restaurants in Peru, but Mr. Sushi has so far 162,452 likes on Facebook, what is a proud number.
Mr. Gravity – Quito, Ecuador
I had to remind myself again, where I captured this snapshot. But it was in Quito at a billboard that was advertising for a concert. I can’t say, if Mr. Gravity or its band members play nude on stage as well, but if you wish you listen to one of their samples you can do that here.
Mr. Ceviche – Quito, Ecuador
Another brain-teaser: What does Mr. Ceviche offer? Hint, his products are similar like Mr. Sushi. Ceviche is a traditional South American dish with raw fish, that has roots in the Peruvian cuisine. But Mr. Ceviche is not as successful as its relative Mr. Sushi from Lima. I found the little food truck on Avenida 12 de octubre in Quito.
Mister Potato – Asunción, Paraguay
I learned something!
On first glance it looks like a cheap copy of Pringles, same packaging with a tube and a key visual that looks similar to the face of Pringles. Added with a sombrero, it should give a Mexican touch here. But when I researched about it, I found out, that Mister Potato is a brand from the Malaysian food producer MAMEE-DOUBLE DECKER(M) BERHAD, which has over 50 different products in their portfolio. But how come, that potato crisps from a Malaysian company with a Mexican Look & Feel are sold in Paraguay? Globalization is the answer! I can’t remember, that I have seen Mr. Potato at another country in South America so far and couldn’t find the answer on their weird programmed homepage. But they are sponsor of the British football club Manchester United, so they seem to have some budget going spare.
Mr.Lee – Lima, Peru
I found this sticker on the refrigerator in the apartment in Lima where I moved in. So far I didn’t call Mr. Lee to deliver food to me. But this name with the key visual is so goddamn obvious, it wasn’t even needed to add ‘Comida China’ (means ‘Chinese Food’) to it. I could have thought about it myself thanks the face and cooking hat of Mr. lee. Their homepage is currently under construction, but Mr. Lee’s official Facebook channel has 30,436 fans. and seems to be a big number 🙂
Mister Frío – Asunción, Paraguay
Asunción is during summer a very hot place. Temperatures up to 45 degrees during the hardest days make the life of the local population difficult. every building, almost every room is equipped with a air conditioning. You see on the frontage of the bigger buildings in Asunción sometimes hundreds of them. Unfortunately most of them aren’t installed professionally and cooling water will drop on the streets. It happen very often to me, that a water drop fell inside my collar and trickled down my back. But with Mister Frío, an expert for repairing and installing air conditionings, all sorrows can be diminished. The key visual of Mister Frío is a superhero, but no hero story can be told about their internet presences. No homepage and only a gaunt facebook profile with 17 likes. I expected more from an ice cold superhero.
Mr. Grill – Lima, Peru
Mr. Grill is a Chilean-Peruvian company and specializes itself in…Guess! No, car tires is wrong. I found this professional barbecue in a supermarket in Lima. But Mr. Grill has a very professional homepage I like and transfers its brand also very subtle to the customer. The brand transfer they make with an own restaurant and learning how to barbecue in professional classes looks promising. Finally a Mister with a profesional performance and story to tell!
Mr. Books – Quito, Ecuador
What do you expect from a store that is called ‘Mr. Books’? Probably no one who wants to sell you a TV. Mr. Books is a library chain in Ecuador and has several stores that invite you to buy a book. In comparison to many other described examples in this blog article, they do not only use the English embodiment with the salutation of ‘Mister’, but translate as well their offered generic product to Mr. Books. But I couldn’t tell now, if I would prefer ‘Mr. Books’ or ‘Mr. Libro’, the Spanish pendant. Both are not quaint when selling books.
Mr. Pollo, Mr. Chancho, Mr. Fish, Mr. Pavo, Mr. Cook – Quito, Ecuador
Multi feature! Mr. Pollo, Mr. Chancho and Mr. Pavo means nothing less than ‘Mr. Chicken’, ‘Mr. Pork’ and ‘Mr. Turkey’. Vegetarians should feel snubbed and offended now! All these sub brands belong to the company Pronaca and they have even more quaint product names to offer on their homepage. For example Fritz. Their were really brilliant geniuses in the marketing departments at work.
I think, that this is a Mr. bad idea for a Mr. Product Name when selling a Mr. Product to a Mr. Consumer on a Mr. Market with a lot of Mr. Competition.
Mr. Relajado – Quito, Ecuador
I made a snapshot in a bus in Quito. Someone sticked a sticker on the top of the door, probably Mr. Relajado himself. There aren’t any useful search results when investigating for ‘Mr. Relajado’ in Google. ‘Relajar’ means in English ‘to relax’. I suppose, that Mr. Relajado from Quito is a smooth and relaxed artist, maybe graffitis, maybe a guitar player.
Mr. End of the story
That’s it, I can’t anymore!!
I hope to have entertained you with these self-explaining and obvious examples of anti-branding. And that you maybe learned a lesson whilst reading this article. The easiest solution is not always the smartest. Or do you think, it’s a good and novel idea to brand and enhance a product or service with the name of Mr. or Mister?
Would you inscribe to a karate school named ‘Mr. Miyagi’ because of its name? Rinse your bathroom with ‘Mr. Clean’ ? Smoke a cigar of ‘Mr. Tobacco’? Wipe your ass with ‘Mr. Toilet Paper’? Refresh yourself with a cup of ‘Mr. Water’?