Bud Light’s Latest (and Awful) Spanish Language Advertisements in the NYC Subway System

As a hobby, I like to analyze advertisements to get a sense of the messages that companies are trying to convey and what strategies they are employing to capture potential buyers. Ads can tell you a lot about what the company intends to do, who they intend to draw in, and how intelligent (or how stupid, usually) they perceive their future consumers to be. Advertisements for beer and liquor have always been a particularly favorite of mine (favorite in the sense of “oh look, there are titties everywhere in that commercial, the creativity of these people is astonishing, how do they do it?!”; seriously, it’s either naked chicks or a funny squirrel in these damn ads).

If one would to go into a predominantly Latino establishment selling or serving beer and alcohol, displayed Spanish beer ads tend to be the standard nonsense: a 6 feet tall cutout of the beer bottle and posing next to it, a chick in a bikini or a mini tube dress, usually without fail. Until, I came across the latest Spanish-language NYC subway ads for Bud Light.

I saw the ads below a few weeks ago.* I blamed my initial confusion on sleep deprivation. But I saw them again today and realized that the problem wasn’t mine. It’s just that, plain and simply, these ads are completely awful.

I sent the following short letter to Anheuser-Busch:

To Whom It May Concern:

I’m a native Spanish speaker (first language + additional instruction for professional purposes). I first saw the Bud Light ads a few weeks ago and I must say, I’m very confused by them. I do not know what the majority of these ads are saying. I am assuming you used a particular slang that is unique to a specific Spanish-speaking country. However, Spanish slang pertaining to one country, does not properly translate or is not used in another. Also, many slang terms can have double meanings, where in one country it can be non-offensive, but in another it is. Even though the Spanish language is the principle connection among Latinos, there are vast differences in culture and vocabulary. Please take these factors into consideration the next time you decide to do a marketing campaign aimed at the Latino population. –END–

It seems as though they picked and plunked slangs from different countries. My Venezuelan co-worker was able to identify some terms as being used in Venezuela, but felt that other terms are mostly used in Colombia. My Puerto Rican co-worker was able to identify as some terms being used in Puerto Rico, but did not understand some of the terms in the ads. Apparently there is some Dominican slang in there as well; I’m Dominican, but my Dominicanese is not quite as strong.

There is a point I overlooked, that my co-worker mentioned: is this the way that Anheuser-Busch believe that all Latin@s speak? Do they make similar ads in English to the effect of “Bud Light is so good, it’s as good as eatin’ a bucket o’ fried chick’n wit’ some corn bread?” No, they don’t, because there would be an immediate backlash for obvious reasons: it’s butchering the English language, it’s demeaning and especially degrading. So then, what the fuck Anheuser-Busch? Why is it OK to butcher the Spanish language? Why is it OK to lumpsum the NYC Latino community and other Latinos who venture into NYC for work or leisure purposes and use the subway system? Why is it OK to bring out the stereotypes of the “arroz con pollo,” the “salsa,” and the “mata e (de) mango” and what the fuck does “esmaya’o y jampiarte” mean?

At this point, I would rather see the beer bottle and bikini-clad chick ads.

*I would translate them all, but again, I have no idea how to translate them or make sense of them. Only the “mata e mango” ad, which translates into “as good as taking a nap under a mango tree.” But no, the majority of Latin@s do not have mango trees growing in their backyards or in their apartments.

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~ by Luci-Kali on August 15, 2007.

15 Responses to “Bud Light’s Latest (and Awful) Spanish Language Advertisements in the NYC Subway System”

  1. Seriously? They made signs no one can even understand? What great advertising!

    If no one can read them, who managed to write them? Some PR genius who’s on the cutting edge of made-up, half-assed, racist, multi-cultural slang? Don’t they have focus groups and test markets who could have told them that their little ads make no sense whatsoever?

  2. Do they make similar ads in English to the effect of “Bud Light is so good, it’s as good as eatin’ a bucket o’ fried chick’n wit’ some corn bread?” No, they don’t, because there would be an immediate backlash for obvious reasons: it’s butchering the English language, it’s demeaning and especially degrading.

    Actually, they DO make English ads that feature stereotypes and slang. Have a look at this one.

  3. I just saw these ads last month when I was in the City. I knew that the grammar involved slang/phonetic spelling, and I assumed they were culturally stereotyped, as I only understood pollo, salsa, mango, etc…, but I wondered what native speakers thought about them. Now we have a better impression. The widespread ignorance is maddening. Give me a break, Anheuser Busch, you make too much money to insult the largest minority in this country. I concur with QLH… where was the testing market for this one? Nice going, Corporate America

  4. GORDO,

    Thank you for the education. At this point, I would suggest that Anheuser Busch actually hire someone who would have something to say around the conference table on decision day, instead of “yes, I think that will work”. Doesn’t anyone add critical argumentation into the mix? A little marketing 101, perhaps? Everyone remembers the chapter “Marketing and Diversity: the Age of Globalization”, right?

  5. […] out the ignorance and generalization, just as I did for the Bud Light ads: there is no such thing as a consistent pattern of Latin culture. There is no such thing as a […]

  6. Spanglish – Really Bad Spanglish

    By Randy Paul of Beautiful Horizons Seen on the New York City Subway among several Bud Light ads allegedly in Spanish, one with the following text: Tan bueno como encontrar un parking en frente al building Good God. I have

  7. How about this one i saw the other day: “Tan bueno como encontrar un parking en frente al building.”

    Not content to butcher Spanish, now they’re trying their hand at Spanglish. The mind reels.

  8. LMAOOOOOOOOO

  9. You could be right about arroz con pollo being a stereotype, but I will say that it was the focus of many lessons of mine when I took Spanish in high school.

  10. […] Anheuser-Busch “Spanish” Ads Saga Continues… As Randy Paul mentioned in the comment section of my initial post on the Bud Light ads, there is an additional ad in the Bud Light series that I […]

  11. As a frequent Spanglish speaker (I also speak “proper” English & Spanish) I can tell you that “parking” and “building” are used in Spanglish. Actually, “parking” is used in Latin American Spanish very widely.

    I know it’s not proper Spanish. But most Americans don’t speak Queen’s English, either.

  12. Oh, get over it. I’m Puerto Rican and I think they’re great. It shows that a company is reaching the people where they live, the way they speak. I dont’ drink beer, but I thought the ads were funny.

    Why be so serious?

    L-K: No, I don’t have to get over it. If you like them, fine, I’m glad you understood them (because most people I know, like I said, didn’t understand the full content of the ads). But, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t put out similar ads in Ebonics (although GORDO highlighted a good point with the “Wazzup” videos). And if you’re didn’t read my post well, although it did bother me and it shows, my posts are sarcasm-laced. Don’t like? Oh well…

  13. Pase me un Tecate…

  14. DUDE,

    I think u might work for MIller and u don;t have sense of humor.

    L-K: DUDE, I think you might work for Amheuser-Busch: your grammar sure looks like it. And my sense of humor is quite spectacular; I laugh at things that are actually *gasps* funny.

  15. Well, actually these are actually true representations of colloquialisms, directed to a specific target who can identify with the message. Perhaps the rest can feel neglected, or even “offended” (judging by the comments above, but whether these ads are good, bad or badly spelled, shouldn’t be the discussion. One thing we can give them is they know their target and are smart enough to talk to them specifically.
    Check out:
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/edit/?id=110293080616#/album.php?aid=98411&id=110293080616

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