Cablegate: Spanish Film Campaign: Promotion or Protectionism?
UNCLAS MADRID 000553
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KIPR ETRD ECON SP
SUBJECT: Spanish Film Campaign: Promotion or Protectionism?
1. Spain's film industry has kicked off 2004 with a campaign
aimed at promoting Spanish films by belittling those "made
in the USA." Despite the campaign's anti-American tone,
there's no need for Hollywood to worry yet. GOS policy, as
voiced by President Aznar, suggests that the introduction of
market access barriers is highly unlikely.
2. Spanish film producers started the New Year with the aim
of improving their box office profits. Although film
production in Spain increased from 114 movies in 2002 to 126
movies in 2003, the ten most-seen Spanish films accounted
for 70% to 80% of Spanish film sales. In an attempt to
promote Spanish movies, producers from the Federacin de
Asociaciones de Productores Audiovisuales (Fapae) initiated
a campaign based on the slogan "You need to come see us."
The aim of the producers was to remind viewers that Spanish
films are different from international films. While Fapae
said the campaign wasn't anti-Hollywood, the ads obviously
referred to the U.S.
3. The campaign consisted of three commercials that were
screened in theaters or aired on television for a period of
fifteen days. The president of Fapae Pedro Perez made a
press statement assuring that the message is not against
anyone, not even Hollywood. "Taxista" or taxi-driver was
the first commercial, which underscored the difference
between Spanish culture, when two taxi-drivers meet and
greet each other using hand-shakes and gestures, reflecting
those of hip-hop. Another commercial "Halloween," questions
why aspects of foreign cultures are adopted into Spanish
culture. The message of the last of three advertisements,
"Batedor" or baseball batter, was that Spanish cinema is
equally capable of producing movies. Although the
commercials are comical, they make obvious references to
American culture, complicating Perez' claim that these
campaigns are not targeted at, as the newspaper El Mundo put
it, its "archenemy the American cinema."
4. Despite the anti-U.S. overtones, it's unlikely the U.S.
film industry should be concerned about a backlash against
American films in Spain. We spoke with Secretary General
Estela Artacho of Fedicine, a confederation representing
American film and Spanish film industries. Although Spanish
producers would support protectionist measures, Artacho
opined that given the present Aznar administration's liberal
trade policies and its strong ties to the U.S.,
protectionist measures are unlikely. In his recent trip to
the U.S., Aznar condemned the French degree of cultural
protectionism. Currently, the only form of protection in
Spain is a long-standing movie quota of one EU-film for
every three non EU-films. Artacho was convinced that the
American film industry was not significantly affected by
5. A closer look at the Spanish film sector can explain that
the campaign is not driven politically, but rather, it has
been initiated by the economics of the film sector. For the
second consecutive year, movie attendance has dropped
sharply in Spain. For 2002 and 2003, there was a total loss
of nearly 17 million viewers. On the other hand, there were
some minimal improvements for Spanish films, which gained
500,000 viewers-an increase in market share from 13.7% to
16% in 2003.
6. CONCLUSION. Last year's sales figures have been an eye-
opener for Spanish film producers. They have opted to
attract more viewers to their films by branding their film
industry. For now, the U.S. film industry will probably be
unaffected by the new campaigns. The possibility of other
measures being taken depends largely on the future situation
of the Spanish film sector.