Eugenio Derbez and the “War of Billboards” in Mexico City
In the spring of 1998, Eugenio Derbez produced his comedy show Derbez en cuando which ran for two seasons until the end of 1999. However, the most iconic thing about that time was the “War of Billboards” between the two most important television stations in Mexico City.
The Birth of TV Azteca
Before 1993, Televisa was the only company that reigned supreme in Mexico. When the government decided to disincorporate the parastatal television station Imevisión, a group of investors acquired the media package privatized by the federal government, and thus, TV Azteca came into being. With both companies now on the same avenue, competition became fierce.
In 1997, TV Azteca became a real competition for Televisa. It offered its own soap operas, nightly newscasts, and several of its banned celebrities were choosing to move. Meanwhile, Televisa stars found shelter in TV Azteca, further fanning the flames of the competition.
The Billboard War
One of the most iconic things about this competition was the “War of Billboards.” The promotional messages for the telenovela La chacala were seen as a message from TV Azteca to Televisa. The billboard war continued for months, and Eugenio Derbez, who had the Televisa shirt on, decided to respond to the visual affront and place one mocking the project of his former colleagues.
Promoting Himself and Defending TV Azteca
Derbez found a way to promote himself and defend the TV station where he worked. For months, the creatives of the comedian and those of the competition exchanged “words” on their respective billboards. Derbez even came out dressed as ‘Blanca Nueves’ with a pronounced neckline and the word “breasts” in response to a previous billboard.
The Suspect and the Murder
A billboard from TV Azteca, in direct allusion to Derbez’s weekly series, led to Derbez being considered a suspect for the homicide of the driver committed on June 7, 1999. The Attorney General’s argument was that the comedians were enemies and maintained a war of declarations in the public eye. Derbez was not charged, but the perpetrator of Stanley’s murder is still unknown.
The “War of Billboards” between Televisa and TV Azteca was one of the most iconic things about Mexican television in the late 1990s. While it may have been just a petty competition between two TV stations, it was entertaining and caused many smiles.