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sábado, marzo 14, 2009

The Times Discovers Argentina. And The Internet. All At Once.

Wow! I'm breathless. Today the Times takes an excursion into pop culture, in Argentina no less, and doesn't quite notice that it's. all. about. the. marketing. How could this happen to the usually streetwise, perceptive Grey Lady?

Let's begin with today's New York Times article about world famous flogger Cumbio a/k/a Augstina Vivero, who is famous in Argentina (and probably Chile) because of her flog, that would be a foto blog, and imo because she sells stuff. Lots of stuff.

Says the Times:
She has catapulted herself to stardom and unexpected affluence by transforming Internet fame as Argentina’s most popular “flogger” into marketing muscle, signing modeling contracts, promoting dance clubs and writing a book about her life.

And she is all of 17.

Notice that the Times thinks that the teenager's famousness grew into marketing muscle, not the other way around, that the marketing muscle made her a star. The Times would make this a story about co-optation of a flogger, not simple exploitation of consumers. But I digress.

And then the Times opines:
Her unlikely popularity is also redefining stereotypes of youth celebrity in Argentina. Ms. Vivero, who is openly gay, describes herself and other floggers as “androgynous” for their unisex clothing. She is comfortable with not being model-thin, eschewing dieting and boasting of her love of junk food and chocolate — a different message in a country where women have high rates of eating disorders.

“We are breaking a lot of barriers,” she said.
I am happy to see barriers break. However, the "we" she's talking about, I suppose, are the other floggers and Cumbio, or it might be her sponsors. Why do I think it's the latter? Nah. That would be too capitalistic. Too cynical.

And the Times even calls an expert witness:
Floggers are not “like hippies or punks, who had ideals of fighting to change the world,” said María José Hooft, who wrote a book, “Tribus Urbanas,” on youth subcultures in Argentina. “Floggers don’t want to change the world. They want to survive, and they want to have the best possible time they can.”

The Cumbio craze really took off after Guillermo Tragant, president of Furia, a marketing company, discovered Ms. Vivero and the floggers last April while scouting for fresh faces for a Nike sportswear campaign. Nike wanted “real people from the streets,” Mr. Tragant said.
That's it. They don't want to change the world. They just want to have the best possible time they can, and consume lots of really neat stuff, and the "Cumbia craze" really took off AFTER the marketing guy got involved. Oy.

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