Monday, April 22, 2013

Commercials in Spanish: a classic

I have always been a great fan and follower of TV commercials. They are amusing and visually attractive.  It is true that on occasions commercials portray stereotypical situations which are not acceptable but even then, we still can use them as an "example". They can also be integrated into class activities very easily and act as a springboard for additional activities.
  • They are authentic materials, and in this blog I have always encouraged teachers to use them. 
  • They normally have a real use of the language.
  • Their length is very manageable (around a minute) but at the same time they are a complete entity. That is, they are like a miniature film in around 60 seconds.
  • They are supported by musical and visual devices that make the message even more clear.
  • We can use the linguistic content but also the cultural component.
  • Students are all familiar with the language of publicity, despite the cultural differences.
The first commercial won a lot of awards for its innovation and creativity. It uses a small doggy, Pancho, and its master, Ramiro Benítez, as the main characters. The idea was to promote the Spanish lottery. Everyone can get rich playing it, even a smart dog.

The commercial portrays Ramiro, a very effective dog trainer, who asks a TV program to broadcast his plea for help to find his dog (who became a millionaire after winning the lottery). The commercial makes a parody of an actual TV program that was very successful on the Spanish TV. In the commercial we realize that Ramiro was not a good master and we are happy that Pancho took the money and left him.  The commercial offers lots of possibilities to work with our students: the vocabulary of house chores, the use of the past subjunctive after introductory verbs in the preterit, etc. Because it is visually clear some teachers have used it in ESL classes to create scripts in English.

Pancho and Ramiro Benítez became stars and some more commercials with their "adventures" came out. Ramiro continues his search for Pancho by appearing on different TV programs: a cooking show, a talent show,etc.. Despite the fact that there is some TV criticism in the commercials, it is also true that the spectators can identify what is going on very easily. Pancho and Ramiro were so popular that two years after the series of adverts were produced, a new commercial was released. Ramiro comes to North America still trying to find Pancho. 

Pancho and Benito commercials can be used to introduce the use of TV advertisements in our classes. We can use them to introduce vocabulary, grammar topics and cultural aspects. Following the series of commercials on Pancho we can also talk about the language of advertising and have a look at how commercials are made. The clip below is a "behind the scenes" look at how the Pancho commercials were produced.