MADELEINE BRAND, host:
All right, let's go to Argentina now, where billboards have gone up with the familiar red, white and blue Pepsi logo, but instead of Pepsi, it says Pecsi, that's P-E-C-S-I. And on TV, ads explain what's going on.
(Soundbite of television ad in foreign language)
BRAND: Well, if you can't understand Spanish, or at least Argentinean Spanish, NPR's Bob Mondello is currently in Buenos Aires, so we asked him to explain how Pepsi became Pecsi.
BOB MONDELLO: It's basically if you can't beat them join them. Pepsi has decided that because people in Buenos Aires have been ordering Pecsis at refreshment stands for decades, there's no real point in fighting them. On some billboards, under the word Pecsi, are Spanish words that mean freedom of expression or freedom of pronunciation. That's a freedom that folks in Buenos Aires take seriously. Portenos, as they're known, have been pronouncing things unlike the rest of the world for ages — even the rest of the Spanish-speaking world. For instance, ys and lls, pronounced yuh in Spanish from Spain to Mexico, are here pronounced sh. My last name, for instance if I don't tell someone to pronounce it Mondello, is apt to come out Mondesho.
So, Pecsi it has been, and now Pepsi's saying, hey, call us anything you like, just drink it. Actually, Coke has a product that could've tried this same campaign. Here when people say Sprite, they drop both the s sound at the beginning of the word and the t sound at the end, and say Pri. There's also the fact that Spanish is a consistent language in terms of pronunciation. So, folks here, having learned that the words like and strike is silent, e at the end, mostly assume that the famous shoe company is called Nike, perfectly logical. If you say you want some Nikes, people send you to a shoe store. Pecsi, as always will get you a bubbly beverage, though personally I prefer Pri.
In Buenos Aires, I'm Bob Mondesho.