Last week Telemundo premiered the first episode of their web-based telenovela "Mia Mundo". The three-minute long episode features characters driving Chevy and Chevrolet cars while using Verizon Wireless products. The requisite for product placement is quite obvious.
The series will run 13 three-minute weekly episodes following the life of Mia--which stands for stands for Modern Independent Achiever, the show's leading character.
Product placement in Telemundo telenovelas is not new.
"In recent years, product placement on Telemundo telenovelas has become far more prevalent,” writes R.G. Morin in his weekly column for ‘We Love Soaps.’ “The end credits of every episode of their telenovelas now cite their corporate compensation.”
But the marketing formula does something more than advertising cars and electronic gadgets. It confirms the rise of Spanish-language telenovelas in the U.S. as an important marketing niche.
"Much of the total TV output in the world is telenovelas," said Doug Darfield, senior vice president of multicultural measurement for the Nielsen ratings company according to Star Tribune.
In the United States, telenovelas are "far and away the most popular type of program among households who speak mostly Spanish," he said. The final episode of a telenovela gets ratings comparable to the Super Bowl, Darfield added.
In December 2011, the two-hour finale of Univision’s “La Fuerza del Destino” (“The Power of Destiny”) had 8 million viewers nationwide, more than any other network in its time slot, according to Mercury Mambo, a Hispanic Marketing Blog.
Network corporations have quickly caught onto this trend and are putting their bid in telenovelas.
Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported that MundoFox, owned by News Corp.'s Fox International Channels was teaming up with Colombia's RCN Television SA to create a Spanish-language broadcast network for the U.S.
RCN is one of the largest exporters of Spanish-language television. The Colombian network is the creator of the hit-show "Betty La Fea", the Spanish-Language inspiration behind "Ugly Betty."
The new collaboration attempts to challenge Univision Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp’s NBC-Universal-Telemundo, according to WSJ.
“There is an increasing demand for quality Spanish-language content in the U.S. from both viewers and advertisers,” said Hernan Lopez, chief executive of Fox International Channels according to Portada-Online.
In the first nine months of 2011, U.S. ad spending on Spanish-language TV rose 7.4% from a year earlier, compared to broad TV ad outlays rose only 2.3%, according to Kantar Media, an ad-tracking unit of WPP PLC.
On the other hand, Spanish-language networks have turned to English to attract a wider growing audience of English-speakers.
Univision said earlier that all of its prime-time novela premieres this year will offer English closed captions.
While Telemundo has also offered English closed captions for years, the television network is pursuing a new type of show aimed at an increasingly bilingual audience.
Most of the web-based telenovela "Mia Mundo" will be in English with the bits of Spanish woven in, said Jacqueline Hernández, the chief operating officer of Telemundo, according to the NYTimes.
"Mia Mundo" is the “first-ever bilingual branded entertainment series.”
Reality stars Jenni Pulos from “Interior Therapy with Jeff Lewis” and Gretchen Rossi from “The Real Housewives of Orange County” are also said to guest star in the new telenovela.
"Mia Mundo" is aiming to engage "to further engage viewers and Hispanics across the full-spectrum,” said Jacqueline Hernández, Chief Operating Officer, Telemundo Media.
Viewers will even be able to vote for how they want the show to end. The finale, based on the viewers choice, will air on Mun2, Telemundo’s cable network.
Clarification: The article previously stated “Mia Mundo” was the first Telemundo telenovela to have English closed captions. The article has been updated to reflect that Telemundo has offered telenovelas with english closed captions for many years but “Mia Mundo” is its first-ever bilingual branded entertainment series.
Cheesiest Moments In Telenovelas:
An impossible love, a conniving ex wife, death threats and every cliché in the book, "Yo Amo A Paquita Gallego" ("I Love Paquita Gallego") had everything to make it one of the hit telenovelas of the late 90s. The Colombian soap opera recounted the tragic love story of Paquita Gallego and Andrés Hidalgo. In this scene, the lovers are exchanging goodbyes because Andrés is travelling to the U.S. Will he fall in love with a blonde, blue-eyes American girl, Paquita fears. Like a true gentleman, Andrés rejoices in Paquita's jealousness. "Tell me you're jealous, feed my ego," he tells her. Aww, love. In a true romantic move, Andrés assures her that there's no one he will ever love more than her, because she's "transparent like the clearest of all crystals...from the surface of your eyes I can see to the bottom of you soul... everything about you is clear Paquita, that's what makes me fall in love with you."
"Dos Mujeres Un Camino" ("Two Women, One Road") is a Mexican telenovela about 'Johnny,' a Mexican truck driver played by Erick Estrada who transports merchandise from Mexico to the U.S. Even though Johnny is a happily married man, he falls in love with a woman, Tanya, during one of his trips. After Tanya suffers a a fatal stab wound, Johnny returns to his wife who leaves him and Johnny winds up losing both of his loves. In this romantic scene, Tanya professes her love to Johnny who apparently freaks out and runs away. Not to worry, they rekindle their love again.
"Cuando Me Enamoro, Se Detiene El Tiempo" ("When I Fall In Love, Time Stops") is the story of a turbulent love affair between Regina/Renata (twins who end up being one woman, of course) and Jeronimo Linares. After much scheming and heart aches, the couple finally ends happily together. As if the love lines, with the sunset in the background and the frolicking in white, flowy linen fabrics wasn't enough for the final scene, there's Enrique Iglesias' and Juan Luis Guerra's love song playing in the background.
"Las Juanas" is the story of the five illegitimate daughters of Don Calixto Salgero, all born from different mothers. Each sister is endowed a specific characteristic: Juana Valentina is impulsive, passionate and the prettiest of them all; Juana Caridad is sweet, quiet and very pious; Juana Bautista has a gypsy twist; Juana Manny is a born fighter and the youngest, Juana Matilde, is charming, scatterbrained and loves to sing. This video clip depicts Juana Valentina and Ruben Salgado, two of the characters who fall in love. The twist? Juana Valentina and Ruben are half siblings. "Touch me, touch me like the key of a guitar, of a clarinet, of a flute," she tells him. Lines that make you cringe, but has playing an instrument ever sounded sexier?
"Nunca Te Olvidareé" ("I'll Never Forget You") is the love story of of Esperanza and Luis Gustavo. Somewhere between the drama of their romance, Luis Gustavo finds out they are related and runs away, leaving Esperanza heart-broken. This is the scene when they reconnect. She gives in, goes for the kiss but then holds back when she remembers that he's engaged to another woman. It turns out the engagement is all a big lie. Then they're embracing again. All this romance in less than a minute. And to really highlight the romance in the scene, Enrique Iglesias' raspy voice is once again heard in the background.
When you follow a romantic plea like "You're the woman I haven't been able to erase from memory in all my life," with facial caresses and a kiss that lasts days and across physical space, how do you top it off? In Salomé, they did so by galloping across a barren land with Marco Antonio Solis singing 'there's nothing more difficult than living without you' in the background.
"Pasión De Gavilanes" is centered around the three Reyes brothers: Oscar, Juan and Franco. They work in the Elizondo household pretending to be construction workers as they plot a way to avenge their sister's death which was supposedly caused by Mr. Bernardo Elizondo. But the Reyes brothers "unexpectedly" fall in love for Mr. Elizondo's three daughters: Norma, Jimena, and Sarita. In this episode, Oscar and Jimena are kidnapped and after spending days with no water in arid land, they find freedom after running into a film production right in the middle of the desert. Lo and behold they get cast as the main characters of the commercial. Dressed as an Indian and a cowboy in the middle of a scene, with an intensely passionate kiss, Oscar and Jimena finally succumb to their love.
Sometimes there's no need for words when it comes to romance. Such is the case in this scene in the hit Venezuelan telenovela "Cristal" ("Crystal"). With eye-to-eye contact (and an awesome slow motion spin) there's no doubt that Cristina and Luis Alfredo are instantly in love. Cristina was abandoned as a child and grew up in an orphanage She pursues her dream of becoming a model. Cristina and Luis Alfredo, start an affair, later to discover they are step-siblings. The drama continues as their love story unfolds.