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Latino Goya Ads

As a Latina, I've been exposed to many images dealing with race/ethnicity throughout my life. There have also been products in my life that have been present, because of my ethnicity, since I started eating my mother's cooking decades ago. I find it very interesting how Goya products have been a part of my life. I came across them daily at home and in the media that I was exposed to growing up. I don't know one Latino that does not use Goya products.

I grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn all my life. It is heavily populated with lower class Latinos. All three schools that I attended consisted of mainly Latinos and Blacks. Never before had I been exposed to so many whites before I came to Syracuse. Living around people that were not of color was a new feeling that reinforced my identity in my mind.

Growing up in Bushwick with my mother, there were mainly two types of media that I was exposed to in my apartment. My mother tuned in to one of many Spanish radio stations every morning, without fail. Similarly, she would turn to one of the two Spanish channels to watch the evening news. There could be no interaction during this because my mother would become frustrated if she was disturbed while watching the news. After the news came the soaps. This was a time of heavy interaction as we would both sit and watch the soaps together, despite the fact that I was not even an adolescent, and comment on the different situations and characters that were found in the soaps. Despite the thirty-six years difference in age, we were like two girlfriends.

I distinctly remember Goya advertising while the television was on for all those years each evening. To prove it, I will type the words to a jingle that a man in one of the Goya advertisements would sing.

"Viandas. Quien quiere comprar mis viandas? Ricas. Viandas frescas, viandas Goya. Mira que llego la sabrosura. Conjeladas y empacadas, aqui estan. Ha! Ha! Ha! Viandas Goya, que deliciosas son!"

At the time, and probably to this day if the opportunity were to emerge, I reacted to this advertisement by singing along with it. Consequently, like any other child that feels she has mastered something, I would feel good. The advertisement brought about a sense of security because of my familiarity with it and the strong associations that it held for me. I associated this advertisement with my mother because she was the one that would tune into that specific channel, I was never far from her when it would appear on television, and I associated it with my home because that's were I was exposed to it. Both very comforting for me as a child and even now as a young adult.

This advertisement appealed to Latinas as it was strategically cultural for the following reasons: 1) it was in Spanish, 2) the setting looked as if it was in Latin America or the Caribbean, and 3) an olive complexioned dark haired man with a cart was singing about the product in Spanish as well. This is very traditional as people that sell food in Latin America sometimes go around the neighborhood, with their carts, announcing what they are selling to inform potential customers.

It's truly amazing how I remember this advertisement along with the jingle after more than a decade. Other Goya advertisements were simply a mother preparing a meal and bringing it out for the family to eat. These were strategically planned advertisements as well because in Latin American culture the mother does the cooking and it is desired that she be the one to stay at home to maintain the house and have the food ready when you either return from school or work. When I saw these advertisements I was under the same circumstances as the above, at home and with my mother. However, I was indifferent when I saw them because I couldn't relate to the family at the table seen. I lived as an only child with my mother and she worked all day. I will never know what it meant to grow up with a father and siblings. I did not in any way make me sad because my philosophy has always been that you can't miss what you don't know. So, I was simply indifferent.

Other encounters that I would have with Goya, aside from advertisements on television or in my mother's cooking, was at the annual Expoferia Latino-Americana that my mother took me to each year when I was much younger . The Expoferia was a chance for companies to reach Latinos and introduce them to new and existing products and services -- a different type of advertising through promotions. There, people had a chance to go to the Goya booth and sample a variety of their products and also take some home for free. I thought this was great! Food has always been a weakness for me. I always felt very happy when I went there because I was hanging out with my mother, the only person I had, my best friend, the girlfriend that I would watch the soaps with. It was a lot of fun. One year, my mother paid for us to take a Polaroid with the two anchor people from the evening news that she so faithfully tuned in to every evening. I remember it fondly and must still have the picture somewhere in my apartment in Brooklyn.

My community is a great place to target people of color. Because of this one can always see beer, alcohol, cigarette, and even better, Goya advertising everywhere. Because of this, I always remember seeing a Goya billboard advertising Goya nectars on the corner, a block away from where I live. I would usually see it on my way home from the library, or later on in life, on my way home from high school. Again, a sense of familiarity with this sign as it served as a landmark that I knew. It indicated to me that I was one block or one bus stop away from home. I specifically remember one of the flavors featured in the ad, which was guanabana, another strategy to have Latinos relate as it is typical to the culture. I could never really understand why it was there for so many years without replacement. I suppose it has to do with the type of community I grew up in where things would go ignored or unnoticed despite deterioration.

9/24/97

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