Language Lens

A blog about life, discovery and culture through the lens of language and linguistics.

A Case of Marketing or Merely Different Taste?

To any American these are cough drops, and perhaps the most recognized brand of all.  Coming to Argentina, it struck me that they were recognized as “caramelos” (candy).  They are in fact used as a kind of candy to soothe the throat, or even as a mouth freshener.

So, is this simply a marketing case study where the same product was marketed in different ways and now is used for different purposes, or is it a matter of difference in tastes (gustos)?  And thinking medically, are the products different enough to merit one being a candy and the other used for medical reasons?

Since I work at a pharmaceutical company as an English teacher and coach, I was in the midst of perfect people to answer the question!  Students did some investigating and we learned that the active ingredient is indeed the same in both countries: menthol, and the Halls website confirmed that the products are used differently in the United States versus South American countries.

It turns out that the active ingredient is the same, but we now suspect that the quantity of menthol is different enough to allow the product to be used in such different ways.  Unfortunately this is where the story stops.  Road block: the quantity of menthol in Argentina isn’t available as it’s considered a candy and not medicine.  So, perhaps the question of merely a marketing mystery or a difference in tastes cannot be answered…or perhaps it’s a little bit of both.

Whatever it is, this is a discovery that I find fascinating.  I don’t think the products are different enough in each country, different enough to warrant a completely different perspective of the product.  I think it’s simply a reflexion in society of how societies can be different, and this is but yet a metaphor for that.

Supporting quotes after asking Facebook friends to describe the picture above:

  •  If you’re over the age of seven, they’re cough drops. If you’re seven or younger, they’re one of the lower-ranked tiers of candy.
  • Halls Cough drops, NOT candy!!! Por Dios…jajaja 
  • Until we moved to South America, I would say they are cough drops. That is the ONLY time I would ever want to consume them still, although I now know the alternative. :))
  • Candy in Argentina.
  • In the UK they are meant to be for when you have a cough or a sore throat but I think they taste yucky!

http://pinterest.com/pin/250653535482103354/

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