Monday, May 31, 2010

El Pilón Effect

Have you ever found yourself in line at a fast food restaurant where a fellow Latino is on the other side of the counter and without hesitation, POW! You get a little extra? Let’s say you’re buying meat at the supermarcado, where the carnicero is counting the pounds in his electronic scale and just as he prints the receipt, he throws a little extra arrachera, right before he winks at you. My friends, that little extra is called: el Pilón!

Since I can recall, back in Mexico and went to the Tortilleria, Panaderia, Mercado, I remember my Mom or Grandma getting “El Pilón”. On Mondays after coming back from el colegio, my grandma would sent me to get a Kilo of fresh made tortillas and sure enough, right after “la doña” would weight the kilo, she would add a few more and say “el Pilón”.

The most memorable “Pilones” where at “el Mercado” where the “marchanta” would be looking at the neighboring competitor and telling my grandma she would give her a bigger Pilon.

The Pilón effect has followed us also to our new home in the US. Whether we are at a restaurant, supermercado, and yes, even in the advertising industry we are bound by the “Pilón” effect.

The pros of this benefit (ah! It is a benefit!), is that you strive to give a little extra. This benefit is almost expected, but never discussed or agreed, yet, it is simply there. I remember at my Univision days when I used to deal with the local supermercados or proud Latino owners, I would get hammered with “y el Pilón mijo?” as if I was selling tomatoes, verduras or pollo, but it was almost funny. The problem was coming back to my White Sales Managers (yes, many top executives at Univision including the CEO are non-Latinos), and explaining to them the “Pilón”, which I found out there was “added value” in Media terms, it made it a little easier.

The cons of the Pilón effect, are also numerous. Another example is where I currently work. In the world of advertising we deal with hours and billability, something our own Latino clients sometimes forget and expect el Pilón in working hours, without hesitation.

El Pilón effect brings our best, in an effort to almost “pay-it-forward”, which I think should be the case, and the worst, when you just want to get el Pilón, but never redeem those favors.

Next time you’re in line and your fellow Latino winks and throws “el Pilón”, just wink and say thanks, and make sure to pay it forward.

Ps. Help me find out what el Pilón is called in other parts of Latin-America:

In Colombia is ñapa

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