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Give us the duck and nobody gets hurt

14 May 2007

MEXICO CITY – Donald Duck has chased off a Mexican look-alike after a trademark dispute that simmered for

decades between Disney and a beverage maker that copied the hot-headed cartoon character for its logo in 1940.

 

Pascual Boing, known in Mexico for tropical fruit drinks like mango and guayaba, is ditching its old logo based on Walt Disney Co.’s sailor-suited duck in favor of a rapper-style duck with spiky feathers and a blue baseball cap worn backward.

The updated character still will be known as Pato Pascual (Pascual Duck) and the beverage cooperative already has printed the new logo on some of its packaging. Alfonso Sanchez, No. 2 on the Pascual Boing board, said the company was replacing logos on its trucks and staff uniforms with the new design.

 

The dispute hasn’t been decided one way or the other but we wanted to bring this face, which is years old, up to date,” he said. “The new one is similar but younger.

(San Diego Union Tribune)

Pascual isn’t your average soft-drink company. Started as a bottled water company, Refrescos Pascuals first CEO, Rafael Jimenéz, gave the finger to gringos when he ripped off Betty Boop and Donald Duck in 1940 to use as logos on his very Mexican soft drinks… in flavors you won’t find outside the Mexican aisle of your supermarket… guava, mango, tamarindo, mandarino… Betty, radically modified into “Lulu” still graces bottles, but maybe the new wise-guy duck fits.

 

Pascual was part of Mexico’s push for import substitution. If a product was available in the United States, then it was national policy to try to provide a similar product (even if lesser quality) in Mexico. Sometimes, this meant there was only one brand of something like canned soup (Herdez), but at least the Mexican consumer had the same kind of stuff available.

 

It also meant that Mexican products were available in packaged form. Maybe now in a few supermarkets catering to Mexican immigrants in the U.S. you can find canned flor de calabaza soup, or Burro-milk bath soap, or guava flavored soft-drinks, but until recently these were only available in Mexico.

 

In the 1990s, when globalism and NAFTA were all the rage, a lot of the Mexican equivalents disappeared or were bought up by U.S. multinationals. Even national brands like Aguardiente el Presidente and Cerverza Corona came under foreign ownership, or, in Corona’s case, major stock ownership by outsiders — Anheiser Busch: ¡que barbaró!

 

Pascual, despite appealing to Mexican tastes… and an advertising campaign based on patriotism (“the last refuge of a scoundrel… or a desperate company”) very nearly went under. They successfully turned themselves into a cooperative, 100% employee owned and operated.

 

The new, “mas fornido” Pato Pascual (I looked and looked for a photo, but couldn’t find one) was designed children of the owners. The new punk wise-ass duck really fits a company whose product literature never refers directly to their newest consumer product. Boing… and the Pascual cooperative is going up against the biggest market of them all, introducing their own version of what Sr. Jimenéz used to call “las aguas negras del imperio yanqui” (Yankee imperalist sewage): Boing Cola.

“Bat” Guano does his part to support the Mex Files. He’d probably come up with the $35 a year in change, but Paypal is safer and easier. Less than three bucks a month isn’t much for a website that is updated nearly daily, and isn’t cluttered up with advertising. To those who’ve given already, many thanks…

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