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Nº 36 – Dial 112 in an emergency

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

by Uwe Heitkamp

Drring. Drring. Drring. Click!
This is Costa speaking. How can I help you?
Good morning, Mr Costa. This is the press. We’re in trouble. The crisis has caused all of our advertising clients to disappear. What can we do? (…)

I’ve read that, in these current times, the press are selling advertising to Costa. And you? Are you buying anything from them? It must be false. No, it’s true. No, no, no! I didn’t know the press could be bought in Portugal. It can’t be so, surely? Or can it? What’s going on?

We at ECO123 haven’t been informed about the government’s mega promotion yet. Maybe we haven’t been paying enough attention. It’s probably because we’re hidden behind the mountains and Lisbon doesn’t see us here. On Friday, our mailbox at the post office was chock-full of advertising from the usual supermarkets, but there was no letter from Mr. Costa saying he wants to buy us.

Usually there are those who let themselves be bought (and then duped), while there are others who like to carefully analyse the products first (don’t touch, please) and only buy them later. I am talking about advertising spaces of course. So, how do you want me to imagine this? Costa will come to Monchique, with or without an appointment, since important people probably don’t need an appointment, and he’ll knock on our door and say to the marketing manager: “Listen, what do you still have available to sell?” Will he ask us to send him an email with a description of the project, or will we have to make contact with him by using the traditional blue stamped paper of 25 lines? That paper from the good old days…

Nowadays, whoever buys anything wants something in return. In England, they call it a WIN-WIN situation. But what can the press offer Costa and when will he publish his advertisements? Before the election is always better than afterwards. But, even after the election, there’s always a period before the next election. If I see it right, all contracts have small print, usually placed on the back of the advertising contract. That’s where it says that in the event of force majeure, or an act of God, no one can be held responsible. That’s what lets the publishers off the hook, and that’s why the Church has its last rites, or absolution. So, if tomorrow, despite the crisis, the SIC television channel, for example, broadcasts its soap opera with a horizontal coloured bar, a test picture or just a completely blank screen (God forbid!), this will mean that the Government has bought “institutional advertising” that SIC does not need to broadcast, having bagged our revenue in exchange for a handshake and a hug – a method we already know full well from Novo Banco, TAP, etc. They collected the money to waste it later.

I fully understand that money has to circulate. There is currently no point in saving, because there’s no return to be had on your money at the moment. The interest rate is zero. So, you invent different ways of throwing it into the wind.

Dear Antonio,
Please be aware that the best places for advertising in our magazine are on page 3, or the back cover, and then we still have the green pages. We have neither yellow nor red pages. There was once a creative advertising agent who had a brilliant idea for Mercedes. When it was still fashionable to read daily newspapers, he bought the entire page 3 of an important national daily paper only to then leave it completely empty. It didn’t even have the star of the brand. Madness? Well, there was a sentence printed vertically in the bottom left corner: “Mercedes doesn’t need advertising”. That was all. Come to think of it, this advertising agency would be the one to inspire your government. I can put you in touch – no special favours, of course.

Uwe Heitkamp (60)

trained TV journalist, book author and hobby botanist, father of two grown-up children, knows Portugal for 30 years, founder of ECO123.


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