Inventive Latin American product branding (1): When a Mister rules a whole continent


(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.

black wooden mustache wall decor

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.

troubleThe 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.