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Cinco de mayo, inc.: Reinterpreting Latino culture into a commercial holiday

Studies in Symbolic Interaction

ISBN: 978-1-84855-784-0, eISBN: 978-1-84855-785-7

Publication date: 30 October 2009


Cinco de Mayo celebrations have become more popular in the United States than in Mexico. In the past few decades, this historic day has changed from a regional celebration of Mexican American culture into nationwide Latino/a holiday hijacked by the alcohol industry and other commercial interests. This chapter closely examines the varied ways in which Cinco de Mayo has been represented by U.S. advertisers, marketers, and restaurant owners. Using content analysis of Cinco de Mayo advertisements in magazines, billboards, liquor ads, and store displays from 2000 to 2006, five mediated representations emerged: Mexico's Fourth of July, Mexican St. Patrick's Day, Drinko de Mayo, Sexism in a Bottle, and Mexican Otherness. These representations are anchored in a new racism ideology that emphasizes cultural difference, individualism, liberalism, and colorblindness, which reinforce existing racial inequalities. The implications of the alcohol industry's Cinco de Mayo advertisements is the increased targeting of Latino/a youth from working-class communities with high rates of alcohol-related violent deaths and illnesses.


Alamillo, J.M. (2009), "Cinco de mayo, inc.: Reinterpreting Latino culture into a commercial holiday", Denzin, N.K. (Ed.) Studies in Symbolic Interaction (Studies in Symbolic Interaction, Vol. 33), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 217-238.



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