“Cuba is an important market for us”
By the Cuba Journal staff
Western Union is encouraging money transfers to Cuba through a new series of TV spots filmed on the island, according to a report by Advertising Age.
These Spanish-language spots are some of the first produced in Cuba by an American-based company since the 1962 US embargo.
“Cuba is an important market for us,” said Laston Charriez, senior VP-marketing, Americas at Western Union. “We wanted to be there first and make it relevant and breakthrough.”
The ads offer Americans a look at the people in Cuba who receive the funds through the money-transferring service, such as one man who refurbishes mattresses, one who fixes umbrellas, one who repairs car windows, and a hairdresser who uses handmade products.
Approximately 57 percent of Cubans who receive money from American family and friends are seeking to expand or create these types of micro-businesses, according to the Inter-American Dialogue, the Cuban Research Institute and the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy.
The ads were created in collaboration with production company Shooter Films, which recently acquired Vedado Films in Cuba.
Through this connection, the team was able to obtain the necessary permits and working visas to operate locally, but had to remain flexible due to the restrictions of working in Cuba, where they had no wardrobe department, script supervisors, cell service or WiFi connection, and at times no water and electricity.
“We wanted to show people what Cuba is all about… and the ingenuity of what [our recipients are] doing to thrive and survive in Cuba,” said Charriez. “It’s been 50 years since we had the ability to go there legally and bring that back to our consumers… Many of them can’t go back to Cuba or many haven’t been to Cuba.”
“This is Cuba” will air in the Miami metro area as part of the larger “This is WU” campaign, with the tagline “moving money for the better.”
Florida is already responsible for two-thirds of the bank’s money transfers to Cuba.
Though several other companies, such as JetBlue, AirBnb, and Carnival, have also begun to break into the Cuban market, Cuban-American Daisy Expósito-Ulla, chairman-CEO of d expósito & Partners, has advised brands to remain careful as they enter an unknown territory.
“Sending money, travel these are obvious categories,” said Expósito-Ulla. “[Cuba] is a country that’s eager to consume and eager to be part of this global society. I think there will be many opportunities, but I would be cautious.”