The more nostalgic members of the Spanish advertising community recall
the second half of the 80s as the ‘good old times’.
Spain had become a member of the European Community, but was also a
vibrant, emerging market, with a double-digit growth rate - and agency
turnover doubled every four to five years.
It was only after the pinnacle of this frenzied activity - the 1992
Olympic Games - that we woke up one autumn morning to reality. The
recession, which had been felt long before in other countries, had
arrived. Our ‘emergent’ days were over. We became a mature market.
These days, growth rates barely keep pace with inflation (3.5 per cent
in 1996) and the Spanish market is as boring and predictable as any
other in Europe. Like other places, ‘integration’ is in demand by
clients, who in the end decide not to use it.
But Spain does have its own distinctive style of advertising. Or, I
should say, it has two styles. What outsiders seldom realise is that
Spain is at least two distinct markets - one centred on Barcelona in the
Catalan north, and the other, quite separate, focusing on the capital,
They are divided not only by the rivalry between their football teams -
Barca and Real Madrid - but by many other very marked differences.
The Madrilenos believe themselves to be faster-paced and more hip than
their provincial cousins. Their language is of the streets and their
outlook is much more urban than that of the reserved, but friendly,
But although Madrid represents 60-70 per cent of the advertising market,
we in Barcelona bring back more gongs from Cannes for our country.
We like to think advertising from Barcelona is more refreshingly direct
and stylish than its counterpart in Madrid, which is, after all, a
market dominated by multinational agencies.
In Madrid’s fashion-driven - rather than style-led - world, it must be
difficult to be more creative.
Or, as we on the shores of the Mediterranean like to say: ‘It doesn’t
matter how hard they try, Madrid will never get itself a beach.’
Population: 39 million (Catalan six million)
Advertising investment in 1995: 128 billion pesetas* (pounds 6.4
Cost of full page press ad: 1.5 million pesetas (pounds 7,500)
Cost of running 20-second commercial on prime time TV: 2 million pesetas
(pounds 10, 000)