World Media in 2005: Latin America

Years of upheaval in the region helped forge an exciting new breed of creative. Now, with stability creeping back, is Latin America ready to capitalise on the opportunities and talent it harbours?

Recent films from Latin America have demonstrated the region's impressive creative talent. Cidade de Deus (City of God, 2002), which charted three decades in an increasingly violent Rio de Janeiro housing project, and the 2000 Mexican film Amores Perros (Love's a Bitch) are particular examples.

The flipside to Latin America's dazzling vibrancy is the region's tendency to lurch from one crisis to another. Take Argentina. Adspend almost halved between 1998 and 2003 while the country underwent a series of economic and political catastrophes. The week in 2001 where the country had five presidents could have been the stuff of fiction. No sooner was that over than there was a general strike in Venezuela.

Despite troublespots such as Colombia - dogged by a 40-year internal conflict and high unemployment - it seems that some semblance of stability is beginning to settle in the region.

Economically, Latin America had its best year in 2004 since 1997 and growth is predicted for the next few years.

Elections are due in Brazil and Mexico in 2006, so campaigns will begin in earnest in 2005. Only Chile goes to the polls in 2005 in what is destined to be a hotly contested race for the presidency between the ruling centre-left coalition and the conservative opposition in December.

ZenithOptimedia's table of the top 20 countries by advertising expenditure growth includes four Latin American countries, with Venezuela expanding the fastest. It is a testament to how quickly things change in the region: just a few years ago, when Venezualan industry hit the buffers, the concept of growth would have been hard to imagine.

One Venezuelan figure poised to be at the forefront of growth is Gustavo Cisneros. His family business, Cisneros, encompasses a vast array of media interests including Venezuela's TV network Venevision and stakes in the US Latin network Univision and America Online Latin America. Gustavo Cisneros has also made several deals in the pay-TV market. According to Forbes magazine, which values him at $4 billion, he is one of the world's richest men.

Local media moguls have become adept at weathering the indigenous storms, but foreign media owners can get put off by the difficulties associated with the market. Instability has made Latin America a tough market for media owners to enter, but the big brands are there nonetheless.

Usually headquartered in Miami, pan-regional broadcasters such as BBC World, MTV, Discovery, CNN and Disney all enjoy a strong presence across the region and many have invested in separate feeds for specific countries.

MTV's Spanish language channel, for instance, has been broadcasting in the region for 12 years and, with the exception of children's channels, is the highest-rated network among all general entertainment cable channels.

Meanwhile, CNN en Espanol is a 24-hour news service with a separate Mexican feed.

Sales pitches for these channels concentrate on quality rather than quantity: in most countries, multichannel take-up is around 20 per cent of homes.

The exception is Argentina, where it is nearer 60 per cent. For the time being, then, Latin America remains dominated by local broadcasters offering light entertainment, with telenovelas taking pride of place in primetime.

On the print side, there have been some notable success stories from foreign media owners. Reader's Digest, for instance, has been in the region for more than 50 years and is particularly popular in Argentina, Mexico and Brazil. Newsweek enjoys a circulation of 77,000, although the most popular pan-regional business title is America Economia, with a 100,000 circulation.

Many Spanish media owners are eyeing up Latin America, exploiting the fact the whole region, apart from Brazil, is Spanish-speaking. There is also huge potential for Latin and Spanish media companies in the US, where Latinos now outnumber African-Americans. Many media shops have set up dedicated Latin units.

Back in Latin America, belt-tightening on the part of advertisers has meant that the emphasis in media has been on making a splash as cost-effectively as possible. Many think this has inspired greater creativity. One strong example is Del Campo Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi's ambient execution for Teacher's Whiskey in Buenos Aires. Stickers were placed on the floor in bars and got stuck to drinkers' feet. The message reads: "You can stand on one leg. Go on drinking."

Brazil and Argentina are very much regarded as Latin America's creative hotspots and normally make a strong showing at international ad festivals such as Cannes.

ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE

USdollars million at current prices. *Estimated

News- Mag-

Total papers azines TV Radio Cinema Outdoor Internet

1993 10,210 2,727 677 5,616 936 45 209 0

1994 12,531 3,544 953 6,629 1,004 53 347 0

1995 12,861 3,758 942 6,807 871 54 429 0

1996 14,669 4,069 1,102 7,786 1,140 61 510 0

1997 16,948 4,700 1,351 8,959 1,284 74 580 0

1998 17,588 4,850 1,407 9,252 1,300 88 690 1

1999 15,589 4,002 1,249 8,336 1,291 98 611 2

2000 16,725 3,711 1,447 9,372 1,457 98 637 3

2001 15,498 3,635 1,268 8,688 1,309 101 496 2

2002 12,383 2,679 832 7,462 1,032 52 322 5

2003 12,859 2,710 863 7,451 1,294 55 417 68

2004 14,462 2,872 954 8,694 1,381 66 424 71

2005* 15,144 2,926 1,094 9,063 1,460 75 452 76

2006* 16,074 3,020 1,275 9,597 1,537 79 485 82

2007* 17,275 3,138 1,504 10,327 1,624 88 506 88

TOP 20 COUNTRIES BY ADVERTISING EXPENDITURE GROWTH

Rank Country Year-on-year Total spend Total spend

% change (est) 2004 (est) 2003 (current

USdollars m prices) USdollars m

1 Romania 43.2 192 153

2 Indonesia 29.8 2,364 1,821

3 Turkey 26.6 901 821

4 Venezuela 23.9 1,078 1,175

5 Lithuania 20.5 89 74

6 Russia 20.3 3,300 2,744

7 Panama 19.3 182 153

8 Hungary 17.0 1,741 1,488

9 Thailand 15.6 2,068 1,789

10 Philippines 15.0 638 554

11 China 14.0 8,538 7,489

12 Vietnam 13.1 208 184

13 Greece 12.5 2,324 2,065

14 Poland 11.2 3,027 2,721

15 Pakistan 11.0 156 140

16= Argentina 10.0 516 506

16= Chile 10.0 607 551

18 South Africa 8.7 1,324 1,218

19 Estonia 8.5 60 55

20 Malaysia 8.3 1,032 953

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