ultra-brite Mexico - HawaiiFriday, September 29, 2006
It was over 35 years ago that I was teaching English to Colgate Palmolive executives in Mexico City. We were discussing our perception of colour. This bunch spoke quite well and many of them were from the marketing department. It had all started when one of my students raised the subject of what could be wrong with the marketing of ultra-brite their latest tootpaste at the time.
I really liked it. Somehow Colgate Palmolive had circumvented the Mexican health regulations and this product had ether. When you brushed your teeth if felt like you had foaming and tingling ice water in your mouth. I loved it. But I had my suspicions on why Mexicans avoided buying it. I asked my class how they liked the combination of dark blue, gray and white as compared to red, orange, pink, yellow and white. The class agreed that the former cool colour combination was not to their liking. I then pointed out that the cool colours were those of the ultra-brite boxes while the others of the competing and better selling Crest.
While globalization is now helping (or hindering) the personal colour tastes of nations we came to the conclusion then in that Colgate Palmolive class that Mexicans liked hot reds while nations further away from the equator tended to like cooler colours like blues and greens. At the time Mexico City traffic was a Technicolor display of red and yellow. The green mountains of the rainy season changed to rich browns and ochres in the winter. The colour of the light in Mexico City (filtered by pollution) was warm. People in the street wore bright coloured clothing. Vendors sold sliced oranges or corn on the cob with liberal sprinkling of red chili powder.
In Vancouver, by early August when I look at the North Shore Mountains I can already see the cyan in the blue of the sky. Cyan is a cold colour. To me it is our "winter blue". It depresses me. By November Vancouver is green, blue and gray. By January, those who can, go to Hawaii. Those of us that can't, make do with Art Bergman's ultimate Vancouver song, Hawaii:
Let's go to fucking Hawaii
Get down in the sun
I want to lay on Wakiki
Get a tan on my bun
Running from the rain, thousands on the run.
Perhaps I have lived too long in Vancouver and I have lost my memory for the hot colours of Mexico. This August I spent hours shooting blue agaves in Michoacán, Mexico.
I miss my ultra-brite and those reds, those ochres....