Global Latino: Economic Discourses and the Advertising Industry’s Construction of “Latin America”

TitleGlobal Latino: Economic Discourses and the Advertising Industry’s Construction of “Latin America”
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Chavez, C. A.
Affiliation (1st Author)University of Oregon
Section or WGPolitical Economy Section
DateFri 28 June
Slot CodePEF1c
Slot Code (Keyword)PEF1c
Time of Session9:00-10:30
Session TitleAdvertising Industries and Political Economy
Submission ID5456

Marketers are said to play an active role in re-defining community based less on fixed spatial concepts and more on uniform patterns of consumption. As transnational corporations have become increasingly important conduits for global flows, however, the practice of market segmentation raises new issues about the relationship between physical space, collective identity and profit motive. Today, a pan-Latino market has emerged despite significant regional and national differences that remain among Latin American countries. This paper explores the diverse ways in which the global advertising industry imagines, represents and codifies physical space in ways that correspond with their strategic and economic objectives. While there is a substantial literature that has examined the ideologies embedded within advertising texts, less attention has been paid to the corporate discourses that set the pre-conditions for advertising. Here, I focus on the discursive construction of Latin America, a geo-political structure that has evolved over the course of five hundred years. Based on an analysis of online corporation communications circulated by the top ten global advertising agencies, I found that such discourses serve the industry’s economic goals by dividing the physical world into manageable administrative units that are organized, to varying degrees, in alignment with the Mercaturial Map. Discourses related specifically to Latin America generally centered on the region’s strategic value to the larger network as well as how economic and human resources were to be governed. However, such discourses also suggest that the representation of space is only loosely connected to geographic location or national identity as was evident in the inclusion of Miami, a US city but a key nodal point within the Latin American construction. Furthermore, I found that only a handful of large metropolitan cities serve as important centers of knowledge, information and economic power that orient the region. Finally, the findings of this study indicate that the political, ethnic and class distinctions that exist between nation states were suppressed in an effort to achieve the economic goals of the network.

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