THE BLOG

Of Needs And Pursuits

20/01/2017 12:53 GMT | Updated 20/01/2017 12:53 GMT

Let us return to Spain's 2010 tourism promo-video again, since it reveals much about the ways in which Spain wishes to present its rebranded image as well as ways in which the world would perceive itself. While previously, Spain's branding efforts highlight how "Spain is different", the new marketing endeavours strive to underscore needs and desires of individuals who are attracted to the Spanish way of life.

When watching this short video where Spain meticulously presents to the world to market its new brand to tourists around the globe, one would immediately notice the repeated phrases "no necesito (I do not need)" and "necesito (I need)". Several actors from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds as well as varied age groups each lists several things that s/he does not need, and ends up saying "necesito España (I need Spain)".

Spain's attempt here is particularly interesting in juxtaposing individual needs and pursuits and the macro nature of this marketing project in striving to establish or alter one's perception of Spain -- the country as a whole. I wondered how the government's representation of the country would in turn shape or be reflected through everyday, micro aspects of "comer en España (eating in Spain)".

In explaining my findings on this topic, I suggest going all micro in this section and start with a little story that takes place every year around the region. A little story about tunas.

Every year, the tuna tribes cheerfully migrate from the cold, northern Atlantic Ocean to the warm, welcoming Mediterranean Sea, partly to breed future members of the atún family. For a sizable portion of the tuna population, as you would have guessed right away, this would soon turn to be a sad story, but for those living in the region, it is wonderful, for fishing has been an important driver of the economy for many years. Along the atúns' pathway to their desired future homes, merciless nets would spread wide, capturing many unfortunate members of the migrants destined for the lunch and/or dinner tables. Slaughtered, the now-expressionless and motionless fish would quietly await their fate at the local markets; the central market of Abastos, for instance, delightfully exhibits the huge bodies of tunas, with vendors ready to tailor them to satisfy the clients' tastebuds any time.

Recall that we are going micro here. Therefore, instead of tracing the group's whereabouts, we narrow our target down further to one location in the province of Cádiz: the celebrated restaurant El Campero in Barbate.

Ceviche, loin sashimi, tataki, tartare, centre of tuna belly with passion fruit cream and PX sauce, tuna cheeks stewed with amontillado and yuzu sauce, baked tuna collar with potatoes and yuzu mayonnaise...

Needless to say, the wide array of tuna dishes is dazzling and would certainly satisfy even the most demanding customers' wants, desires, and pursuits of the finest regional cuisine. If we think about the marketplace, where the delicacies come from, in more metaphorical terms, we could be led to ponder about the role marketing plays to meet the client's needs (profitably).

We could do so by zooming in further to examine El Campero's interior decoration scheme as a physical form of marketing, for business theories do suggest the importance of "physical processes", "physical evidence", and the atmosphere in shaping and enhancing the consumer experience. Generally, the restaurant features a coherent colour -- white, in both its inside and outside seating areas. This whiteness corresponds to the general colour scheme of Barbate, a fishing town that inspires a nostalgic feeling of simplicity, and that of nearby towns such as Arco de la Frontera. At the centre of the restaurant is an inviting bar area that somewhat resembles a sushi bar in my view, matching the Japanese cuisine-inspired sashimi, tempura, and tataki elements of the menu [here, interestingly, tempura actually traces its origins to the Iberian Peninsula rather than Japan, despite being most commonly associated with Japanese culinary culture -- its homecoming to post-Franco Spain is perhaps seen as a circular loop]. Right next to it, we see an entire wall covered by a giant picture of an bewildered, rather innocent-looking tuna with an open mouth, staring straight ahead at the diners. On the body of the fish, are a series of phrases in Spanish that mean "Who?", "What?", "What do they want?" ("¿Quién?", "¿Qué?", and "¿Qué quiere?"), corresponding directly to my previous analysis of the Spanish government's new tourism campaign motto that centers needs/necessities and wants/desires.

At restaurants such as El Campero, individuals' hunger for food -- not just food, indeed, but also good food (recall the post-war Spanish emphasis on "comer bien", or eating well, which escalates needs to its more luxurious form, wants) have rendered themselves as targets of the restaurants' marketing campaigns.