Thursday, June 6, 2013

Commercials: Reflecting the crisis

In this post I am going to revisit an old topic: the current economical crisis in Spain. I have already introduced resources which will give students a foundational understanding of the situation. I am interested to see how this crisis is affecting all levels of society and mainly common people. It is also making citizens lose faith in their leaders and institutions. According to reports, the country's morale is at one of the lowest in the country's history.

I have also introduced commercials before. They are one of my favourite resources for the class because they usually give us a lot of information about a country, a society and the historical moment they were produced. In a time when everything seems bleak, Spanish companies have capitalized on "feel good" commercials that boast and celebrate the many successes of Spanish people in various fields as a way to sell their products. Obviously, the companies are masters of psychology and an increasing amount of Spanish viewers find themselves being able to relate to these televised vignettes. While these stories are used to boost business, I think they have made a difference in society by helping viewers feel things in a more positive light.
 
The first commercial I'd like to introduce is from a food company, Campofrío. In 2011, they produced a commercial with some of the most popular Spanish comedians. It proved very popular and a sequel was made the following year. For a Spanish class, the second commercial produced in 2012 "El curriculum de todos", (everyone's curriculum) is more useful. One of the comedians from the prequel decides to write a list of greatest achievements by Spanish people in history. He is helped by lots of popular and anonymous people along the way. Together, they mention the Nobel prizes, the Oscars in Hollywood, the campaigns of organ donors and many more. It gives a lot of cultural information for a Spanish class.



Few things have given more grieve to Spanish people than the Spanish national football team. The expression: "jugamos como nunca y perdimos como siempre" (we played like never before and we lost like always) has been repeated again and again any time there was a major international championship... until 2008. This year was the hay days for Spanish sports. It is no wonder that in many different commercials popular companies try to remind everyone in Spain how good we can be. It seems this is the main message: Spanish, we are good, buy our product. They neither describe the product nor even mention what it is: everyone knows the brands behind them.
In the first commercial NBA player Gasol,  football world champion, Iniesta, and tennis star, Nadal, go through the last successes by Spanish sportspeople in the last years. The commercials ends with a powerful slogan: in these times of darkness, everyone of us still can be the light for our country.


In the second commercial a narrator is talking about some of the Spanish national sins: no work ethics, individualism,  lack of planning while we watch anonymous citizens trying to prove the opposite. Then it is some of the most famous Spanish sportspeople who appear in the commercial while the narrator continues talking about the fate of the country, just able to be the last in the line. Then the slogan: there is one Spain admired by the world. Sport is like this. It is not clear what they try to sell... well the newspaper behind the commercial is very popular.

Another company goes one step further: it is the football world champions who applaud and recognize the achievements of prestigious scientists, architects but also of normal people who work hard to do better in their lives. The slogan tries also to be encouraging: because we not only play football well. Everyone needs to be given the credit they deserve.
 
 

These are commercials that speak to our self-esteem, sense of achievement and confidence. The companies seem to be sure that people will buy their product by talking to our sentiments rather than to our reasoning. These commercials are a reflection of the situation in Spain but they try to find the positive side of the crisis and give some hope to people, even if only it is to make us buy more. I think that they can be a good tool for bilingual and IB classes. We can use them to talk about the situation in Spain, understand a bit more about the culture and get to know some famous sportspeople. They also can be a good tool to analyse commercials and their components.