MIAMI – The Cuban government is studying the “reinsertion of commercial advertisements” on audiovisual media to energize and finance television on the island, The Havana Consulting Group LLC said Monday.
“Half a century after abolishing advertising in the media, this tool could return to the island’s audiovisual media,” the Miami-based firm said.
The step taken by the Foreign Trade and Investment Ministry with the creation of a “project for pay television on cable” could become the “springboard” for including commercials on Cuban state television.
In the HCG’s opinion, Cuban television needs “funding in order to make a comeback” and “create new programs that excite viewers and compete with the informal, novel and popular ‘package’ so familiar to millions of Cubans.”
El Paquete de la Semana (The Weekly Package) has become something most Cuban households can’t do without. Each week, subscribers receive a hard drive loaded with episodes of Cuban, U.S. and European series, along with books, magazines, apps, movies and even ads, at prices that fluctuate between $2 and $10.
The process described by HCG can be seen as an attempt to improve the island’s rigid offer of channels, renew its technology and working conditions, while “inserting the country into international markets,” as well as deal with the challenges presented by the process of transforming the Cuban economy, it said.
Such ambitions require foreign capital investment plus the development of tourism and of domestic industry with its own brands, which in turn “need advertising for their development.”
Once put into practice, the measure “will greatly help both the private sector and state-run companies” promote their products and services in “strong competition with foreign brands” which today are marketed on the island.
Though the project does not mention the word advertising, “it is obvious that investment in a pay TV service on cable” needs the kind of financing largely supplied by television commercials, The Havana Consulting Group said.
With ads on TV, Cuban brands belonging to companies owned and operated by the state like Havana Club, Cohiba, Ciego Montero, Partagas, Montecristo, Cristal and Bucanero “could reach the eyes and ears of the avalanche of tourists expected to visit the island in the coming years.”
New opportunities would also open in the emerging sector of privately owned restaurants, among others, that “could advertise during prime time on national television.”
Earnings could be in the multimillions in a “market that has been an advertising desert for over half a century.”