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South of the Border - Down Mexico Way Part II

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Marlboro Thumbnail of a Marlboro ad featuring cowboys rounding up horsesthumbnail of a Marlboro ad Camel Thumbnail of a Camel cigarette  packGuess Thumbnail of a Guess poster/billboard

Pepsi Thumbnail ol a pepsi billboard/hoardingCoke Thumbnail of a CocaCola truck.


More unnecessary exports

Philip Morris and Co have never been a company for hiding their light under a bushel when they could get away with emblazoning their brands names legally across the skyline. A number of massive posters adorn the skyline of Acapulco and the author regrets he did not have the time to examine them more fully. This marvellous exampleMarlboro poster with cowboys rounding up horses. Sex in bottom right hand corner.

would appeal to anyone who reveres Western movies and cowboy myths. It requires a modicum of cognitive effort to complete the brand name but otherwise seems innocuous. Innocuous that is apart from the SX barely evident in the bottom right hand corner of the poster - and this may be an artefact of the photographic process.

The same cannot be said for the second large Marlboro poster, found situated close to the city square. This next poster is almost hidden by an extensive spider's web of power and telephone cables but the key manipulative features are still evident. In this instance, Marlboro country clearly resides between the legs of the cowboy, the area of human anatomy in which the brains of many men are supposed to reside. See below for the explanation.

Marlboro poster with cowboy leading horses. One horse has its foreleg between the legs of the cowboy - a third (phallic) leg, in other words. Background denotes another phallic shape in low lying cloud.

Note first that above the word Country there is a long phallic shape (presumably intended to be consciously perceived as a long low lying cloud). This is complemented by the cowboy's 'third leg'. This euphemism for the penis is presented visually in this ad by rather awkwardly placing one of the horses legs in between the legs of the cowboy. Overall the ad conveys a rather sexy message that would not be noticed by any casual observor.

Camel cigarette ads needless to say do not leave the Mexican semi-subliminal field clear for Marlboro although no examples can be shown here. However, it was evident Camel cigarette pack with manikin with erectionthat Camel cigarette packs are also the same the world over. Despite the English labelling on the front of the Camel Filters Hard Pack the pack illustrated on the right was produced in Mexico. On both the top and bottom of the pack it is clearly stated that this is a Camel Filters Hard Pack. Noticeably to the author, the word 'hard' did not simply refer to the pack. Note the clearly delineated phallic protrusion on the manikin, just above the forelegs of the Camel. This should show up without any difficulty on the rollover. The other Camel brand on display at the same time (Camel Lights) had a distinctly less obvious 'hard on', presumably because this aspect of the logo was less relevant to those who prefer Light cigarettes.

Guess jeans billboard with surboardFor a barely discernable deviation from phallic elements in ads cigarette ads take a look at the Guess Jeans ad on the left. If the surfboard was intended to be a representation of the male organ then it probably would win any outsize competition. But it is probably just meant to be a surfboard.

A streak of paranoia might be helpful when one is trying to detect 'faces' in ads but, in Acapulco, simply being aware that such elements exist in Pepsi ads is sufficient. Elsewhere on this site various Pepsi and Coke ads were analysed to show that they contained semi-Pepsi rotating sign with faces in the bubblessubliminal elements. Many of the Pepsi ads evident in Mexico also contain semi-Pepsi rotating sign with faces in the bubblessubliminal 'faces'. These tend to depict thirst. The most notable examples were found on the revolving signs above many bus stop shelters (left) and on other revolving signs (right).

In the bottom right hand corner of the bus stop signs could be Pepsi truck with face in bottom rightfound a number of different faces. Which one(s) would be evident to any viewer would depend upon ones focal point. The most easy to perceive is a little round face to the left of the dark area underneath the neck of the bottle (not distinguishable in this photograph). Another bearlike 'face' with an open mouth can be perceived if the dark area towards the bottom is perceived as the mouth. This shows up much more readily in the equivalent promotional ad found on the side of delivery trucks (see the rollover for this image).

The Coke Wars Page also noted that Pepsi Max labels had been 'doctored'. Mexican Pepsi labels show some signs also of this artwork,Pepsi label with faces although the faces are not as clear as on the Pepsi Max Label. In fact, in this instance - and in the adverts noted above - it would seem almost as though Pepsi were plugging a 'negative' message associated with thirst and discomfort, rather than the pleasurable message promoted in cooler countries.

Coca Cola van with 'splash' gremlin face.To conclude this section, and to be fair to Pepsi's biggest competitor, one should note that Coca-Cola also have carried their semi-subliminal competition south of the border. Here is an example of a Coke delivery van displaying the 'gremlin' splash noted on the Coke Wars page.


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El espot publicitario : Las metamorfosis del deseo

by Jesús González Roquena (1995) Ediciones Cátedra, S.A. , Madrid.

ISBN 8437613108


Fun in Acapulco

The author and his partner Pat on the beach at Playa Caletilla, Acapulco.The Mexican and other Spanish language ads discussed above were collected when browsing through magazines whilst the author and his partner were in Acapulco and Mexico City in late December, 2000. If you would like to follow in his tracks and sample the beaches, historical locations and night-life or simply veg out on the beach or by the pool, rather than look for semi-subliminal and manipulative advertising, and don't know where to begin, here are a few suggestions.

Off the beaten track for most tourists (apart from their trip to see the cliff divers) is the older part of Acapulco, past the Zocala (city square) and only a few pesos extra by taxi - even less by bus. Four pesos will take you all the way by air conditioned bus from most hotels on the tourist beach. For only three pesos you can rough it and share the local boneshakers.

Poster for the movie Fun in AcapulcoThis area used to be the haunt of the rich and famous in the 1960's. Elvis Presley filmed Fun in Acapulco here and the area still attracts groups wanting to film with an authentic and distinctive background. Now rather run down, the area still has loads of character (though the public toilets need upgrading if the local council wishes to attract a lot of foreign tourists). It is well worth a visit as a contrast to the 'same world scene' found along the tourist beach and virtually every other tourist beach around the world.

On Playa Caletilla (beach) check out the Restaurant Bombu for a cold beer, non alcoholic or alcoholic fruit drinks or a delicious meal (expect a whole fish in your fish soup). Ask for Pedro Martínez by name (if he doesn't 'pick you up' at the bus stop or as you wander round the beach) and you'll get service with a smile from a lovely man whose English is better than mine. That's him having a drink in the photograph below along with my partner Pat.

The restaurant seating on the beach doesn't have air conditioning but it does have a lovely tree canopy you can shelter under all day. Chill out and enjoy the local atmosphere Pat and Pedro, Play Caletilla, Acapulco.for a couple of days. Pedro can also help you with self catering holiday apartments: available by the week (around $25 per day). For further information contact

Pedro Martínez, Rest. Bombu, Mod. 2 Local 14, Fracl. Las Playas, Acapulco, Gro., Mexico.

For a guided tour around town at a reasonable price with an excellent taxi driver in a comfortable cab check Pedro Martinez and his  taxi out Miguel A. Jimenez and his taxi (No. 1781). You need a good driver to help you feel safe when travelling around the main roads of Acapulco and Miguel is one of the best. The driving has to be seen to be believed when traffic jams occur and it can take between 5 to 10 minutes to cross the main Costera without risking life and limb.

Miguel's classic American cab can often be found at the Costa Club Hotel taxi rank or by phoning 04474 088769. Miguel will also be happy to take you to any place you find of interest in and around the city: check out the Mayan Palace Hotel and the beaches and lagoons to the south of the city; the old town; Wal-Mart (ahem); the cliff divers at night, in particular the late night show at 10.30 gives really good value; the various markets. Not to be missed if you enjoy eating out is a night at Senor Frog's Restaurant and Bar. Forget the Hard Rock Cafe and Cafe Hollywood, Senor Frog really is something different with fabulous views across the bay (and great T shirts also).

About two hours taxi hire would normally cost relatively little, somewhere between £10-£20($14-$28) depending upon how far one travelled. For the more adventurous Acapulco and district also offers bungee jumping, jet boat rides, paragliding, trips to Mexico City and other places of interest. And of course, dozens of interesting beach bars, hotel lounges, swimming pools and sun, sand and sailing.

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El espot publicitario : Las metamorfosis del deseo

by Jesús González Roquena (1995) Ediciones Cátedra, S.A. , Madrid.

ISBN 8437613108


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To the best of the author's knowledge none of the illustrations, in the format used on this site, are subject to copyright. If copyright has been inadvertently breached please contact the author in order to rectify the matter. All brands and logos referred to or illustrated on this site are the property of the relevant companies and copyright holders. However, commentary and other information produced by the author can be freely copied and distributed. Similarly, illustrations of ads, so long as they are accompanied by commentary or are presented in the form of parody, can also be copied and distributed but please acknowledge as the source. Translation of tobacco company ads and relevant commentary into languages other than English will be particularly welcomed.

Last Revised: 3rd January, 2003


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