CAMPAIGN INTERNATIONAL: ME AND MY MARKET - JWT’s Latin America boss assesses the growth in telecommunications

Latin America appears to be rather like a game of snakes and ladders. If you climb the ladder of Brazilian growth, the rewards can be colossal - but if you slither down the snake of a Mexican Peso crisis or a Venezuelan devaluation, you can watch your profit vanish before your very eyes.

Latin America appears to be rather like a game of snakes and

ladders. If you climb the ladder of Brazilian growth, the rewards can be

colossal - but if you slither down the snake of a Mexican Peso crisis or

a Venezuelan devaluation, you can watch your profit vanish before your

very eyes.



The region has been called a concept, rather than a place, and it’s a

much more cohesive one than Europe, bound together, as it is, by

language, religion and the removal of trade barriers. Deals, such as

Mercosur, now allow goods to be imported to Brazil from Argentina

without the penal taxes and duties that previously made an

Argentine-built Ford Escort cost as much in Brazil as a Jeep Grand

Cherokee bought in Miami.



Further cohesion comes with the dereg-ulation of telecommunications,

which has allowed the old state monopolies to be challenged and the new

media technologies, such as cable and satellite TV, to arrive. There is

a no-holds-barred war going on for multi-channel subscribers between

rival direct-to-home groups of Latin media moguls and their foreign

partners. Both DirectTV and Sky bring around a hundred channels of

digital video and audio, claiming Laserdisc picture quality and

CD-quality sound.



Latin America may be coming at telecommunications from behind, but it

will leapfrog many more sophisticated markets. The on-screen navigation

system for DirectTV is the most advanced in the world.



Internet fever has reached Latin America, too. In the first year of

deregulated access in Brazil, a tenfold increase in Internet connections

mirrored the corporate rush to own a Website. One million connections

are forecast by the end of this quarter. The supermarket, Pao de Azucar,

provides a grocery home-shopping service in Sao Paulo while electronic

magazines (e-zines) offer Brahma Beer sponsored ’chat bars’ and Bradesco

home banking.



But there the similarity with the US ends. Many North Americans have

three cars, five TVs and two VCRs, while less than 1 per cent of Latinos

do.



Any analysis of Latin America must take into account the fact that the

vast majority are neither wired, nor in receipt of multi-channel TV.



Because media research hasn’t kept up with the fragmentation of media

consumption, communications plans have to be created with a large

helping of judgment. This is the reverse of US specialisation and is no

bad thing.



Integrated communications solutions, which are paid so much lip-service

in Europe and the US, are a normal part of everyday life in Latin

America.



                        Argentina    Brazil       Colombia     Mexico

TV penetration          94.7         82.3         98.6         85.1

30’ spot                10,425       89.327       3,180        7,244

Mono page               27,501       54,100       9,117        3,550

Ad spend*               3.5          8.0          2.28         1.375**

National Daily newspapers

Argentina: La Nacion (467,000)

Brazil : Folha de SaoPaulo (451,300)

Colombia: El Tiempo (333,828)

Mexico: Excelsior (180,000)

Source: JWT Latin America

*Adspend 1996 dollars billion

**estimate



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