[1999] Infomercial "Gringa" Wins Big!

by Robin Behar on Mar 4, 2015 6:54:00 PM ERA 25th Anniversary

raffle_280In 1999, when I was working for Katie Williams in Latin/South America, my colleague, Stan Bruckheim, and I were invited to an Advertiser Lunch in Mexico City at the second largest broadcaster in Mexico, TV Azteca. Our firm was the leading "infomercial" company advertising on TV Azteca at that time. You have to remember, in the late '90s infomercials still kind of had a bad rap—we were just getting legitimized particularly outside of the United States. The advertising luncheon was full of high-level ad executives from McDonald's, P&G, Quaker State, Johnson and Johnson, and other multi-national brands. And to say I was the only "gringa" in the room, well, would be telling the truth.

The luncheon took place at a prestigious city golf course. As we started the event, Stan and I were informed that there would be a big prize raffle at the end of the event—TVs and even a brand new car would be given away. The announcement of the winners would also be broadcasted on the evening Azteca news. The awards were also going to be presented by Paco Stanley, who at the time was a Mexican celebrity on the same level as, let's say, Johnny Carson.

We enjoyed the luncheon and, of course, realized we were the "infomercial" people among the traditional advertisers. At some point, the raffle started and a name was called for the Audi. I was not really paying attention until our country manager, Andres, hit me on the shoulder and said, "Robin, they are calling your name—you won the car!" Stunned and in disbelief, I walked up on stage and any Spanish I had in me left my brain. With cameras in my face, Paco asked me in Spanish how I felt. All I was able to mutter was "no hablo Espanol."

It was a horrible and wonderful moment at the same time. I was so embarrassed that was all I could mutter and also thrilled that I won the car. As I looked out at the sea of ad executives peering at me with envy,  I suddenly realized I would then be known as the infomercial gringa who won the car at the luncheon and on national television.

We were staying with my husband's family in Mexico City at the time. I called him and he could not believe it! Actually, he was not going to believe it until we drove to TV Azteca the next day and drove off the lot with pink slips and a brand new Audi!  By the way, Stan also won the TV—the second largest prize. Maybe there was something to those awards...hmmm.

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