Straight from the silver screen: the history of the A Rianxeira logo

The entire continent of Europe was fascinated by Sophia Loren. With that image of the gutsy Italian dame that she maintained throughout her life, she had already shot more than a dozen films. But it was in 1955 with “La donna del fiume” when Europe discovered that a star was born. The dramatic story presents a splendid Sophia Loren and it includes a scene that remains indelible in the memory of those who saw the film at the time, when she danced the Mambo Bacan like no-one else could.

Thousands of kilometres from Italy, Jesús Alonso Fernández, who had recently opened the first Rianxeira cannery, was awestruck by the young actress and decided that his company’s image was to be that of a woman in a very similar pose to one at a particular moment in the film.

Since then, in Jealsa’s half-century of life, that emblematic smiling young girl has become identified worldwide with Rianxeira products. It was only when it had reached its fiftieth anniversary that the illustration was given a slight make-over. Today’s President of the Jealsa Group laid eyes on Sophia Loren in one of her most popular films but he did so before anybody else had noticed the Italian actress.

Recently, on one of his trips to Chile, Jesús Alonso, the current CEO, could not believe his eyes when he sat down in a local establishment to have a coffee. There, hanging on the wall, was a still photo entitled “The River Girl”. It was the same picture that had caught his father’s eye decades earlier – Sophia Loren, in a striking pose, holding a can in her hands. Jesus Alonso did not hesitate to request a copy of the poster and once suitably modified so that the Rianxeira brand can be seen on the can, today it occupies pride of place at the Group’s main plant in Boiro.

Rianxeira = Innovation

Since its founding in 1958, the Jealsa Group has always championed innovation in its products and in its communications. The founder, Jesús Alonso, understood from the outset that only by innovating could the Company excel in the sector.

A clear example of this zeal to innovate was the inclusion in 1987 of easy-open lids on all its cans. Up until then, any food packed in a can needed the proper utensil before it could be consumed. That year, Rianxeira completely changed the hitherto habitual way in which the sector’s products were consumed. With one simple movement and no other tools, it suddenly became easy to enjoy the wonderful preserves inside. Shortly after the launch, this initiative went on to become a standard in the canning world in Spain.

One decade later, Rianxeira took the sector by storm by incorporating olive oil into its entire range of products, an innovation that brought the supreme health benefits provided by olive oil within reach of all its customers. A further step in the right direction that demonstrated, once again, the brand’s innovative spirit, permanently focused on benefitting its consumers – an innovative spirit inherent in Jealsa that has led the company to become a leader in Spain.

The Rianxeira: a Symbol of Galicia

The passage of time has turned the “La Rianxeira” song into the unofficial anthem of Galicia. During the 1970s, it topped the charts of best-selling records, thus extending its popularity which had in fact started before that, because since the 1950s, it was always played or sung at every meeting, family gathering or street party in Galicia. It has been sung and chanted in football stadiums and major sports venues in Europe and generally, it can be heard in any corner of the world where Galicians live.

That is why, when Jesús Alonso was setting up the current Jealsa cannery group, he had a very clear idea when looking for the name. “The brand name came to me when I realised that La Rianxeira was the song sung by all Galicians around the world whenever they had a party”. Since then, the brand has continued to grow and has reached the far corners of the world without ever losing its association with the popular song.

The origins of the song are somewhat fuzzy but several people claim it was composed in the city of Buenos Aires in 1947. The composer is thought to be Anxo Loxo Romero, and they say he wrote it as a tribute to Daniel Rodriguez Castelao, that symbol of Galician nationalism.

That is how the symbiosis that has benefited both Rianxeira and Galicia so much was created. Jealsa identified with Galicia’s traditional and family values, thus defining a unique corporate identity and in turn our rich and varied culture won an ambassador that promotes its virtues across the planet.

Martes y Trece: food and comedy combine

Josema Yuste and Millán Salcedo had just become a duo following the departure of the third member of what up until then had been a trio of comics. They already had a fair amount of popularity but were still a long way from the success they were to attain later on. So when the advertising agency made two suggestions to Rianxeira – Martes y Trece or Javier Gurruchaga and his Orquesta Mondragón, – the head of Marketing and the CEO Jesús Alonso found themselves with a difficult choice.

However, as time was to tell, the choice they eventually made was absolutely the right one. In the end, they decided to hire Martes y Trece for the new advertising campaign, which marked the start of one of the most successful partnerships in the recent history of Spanish advertising. For four years, the comedians promoted and advertised Jealsa products in their very unique style.

Their comic utterances, jokes and other gags went down so well with the general public that they soon began to be impersonated by other artists, even by ordinary people. On the way, they broke all conventions: like completely ignoring the scripts or suddenly dancing the Galician ‘Muiñeira’ folk dance in the middle of a recording, as you can see in this making-of video of the campaign.

Rianxeira awarded 2 medals

2005 was a very special year for Rianxeira, a year that brought the brand two great success stories:

The first was the launch of “solapín” – a new mechanism that enabled cans to be opened in the simplest way without any risk of cutting oneself. A mechanism that was quickly copied by other brands in the industry, demonstrating once again how Rianxeira paved the way in the sector.

The second success came the day the Jealsa marketing team set their eyes on a young athlete from the nearby village of Cangas de Morrazo to advertise the launch of this innovation. That young man was David Cal, who at that time was just beginning to excel in canoeing.

Today, David Cal is the most successful Galician athlete and one of the most competitive Spanish sportsmen of all times, with several Olympic medals won at Athens and Beijing to his credit. Again, Jealsa demonstrated how its support of young talent was and still is the right way forward.

Rianxeira on the radio (I): Pepe Domingo Castaño and the helicopter

Jesús Alonso, founder of the Rianxeira cannery, always had the very clear idea that successful advertising and publicity is synonymous with good sales. From the first day he opened his first plant, he understood that advertising is a strategic business pillar in this sector.

When radio advertising opened new roads, Rianxeira did not hesitate to harness the power of broadcasting to spread its message over the airwaves and reach every social class in the country. To do so, the company approached the most renowned and popular broadcasters on radio at the time, such as Joaquin Prat, Iñaki Gabilondo or Luis del Olmo, just some of the great names that have participated in achieving take-off for this Galician brand name.

One name that stands out in this regard is Pepe Domingo Castaño, a Galician from the town of Padrón, and one of Spain’s leading radio figures. The Rianxeira marketing team did not hesitate for one second in packing all his charisma and engaging personality onto a helicopter, and send him off, microphone in hand, to extol the virtues of our canned foods across Spain. Tens of thousands of people thronged Spanish streets and plazas awaiting the arrival of the helicopter carrying one of the most popular radio stars on board, who then landed and handed out numerous prizes. It was just another demonstration of Rianxeira’s commitment and proximity to its customers, which remains as powerful today as it was in the times of Pepe Domingo Castaño.

Rianxeira on the radio (II): Luis del Olmo and “Protagonistas”

As we mentioned in the first “Rianxeira on the radio” post, this cannery has never questioned the importance of advertising and has always looked for and engaged the best of the moment to get its message across.

One such special case in the brand’s long radio career was that of Luis del Olmo. As part of his “Protagonistas” programme, which had been running very successfully for decades, Luis del Olmo included a very popular section by the famous humorist Tip called “The Bonsai Garden”. In that section of the programme, Tip would taste Rianxeira products and start making parodies of the pilchards or squid. To do that, every morning a tasting of Galician canned foods was held, whereby anybody visiting the Onda Cero studios could participate in the tasting. Such open door tastings were a real hit and even caused large crowds in the Paseo de Rosales in Madrid.

One of Rianxeira’s biggest radio successes came with a competition on Cadena Ser, in which listeners had to express in a letter their wishes as far as the trip of their dreams was concerned. Several of those dreams were made to come true thanks to Rianxeira, such as the case of a woman from Granada who, despite living a hundred kilometres from the sea, had never seen it. Thanks to Rianxeira, she lived to fulfil her dream. Or the case of the couple that were finally able to go on their dream honeymoon, years after their wedding.

These and many more anecdotes like them are testimony to Rianxeira’s success on radio and all helped to define and shape what the Rianxeira brand is and means today.

Rianxeira, to the rhythm of the Macarena

During the 1990s, Jealsa started negotiating the purchase of song rights that it could then tailor to its business needs. After considering several options, it acquired the rights to “Macarena” from the Los del Río duo.

Antonio and Rafael, the Andalusian duo from Dos Hermanas in Seville, already had a long career that included recording no fewer than 350 songs. But it was not until the release of “Macarena” when they reached true fame. Ten million copies sold, it became the official anthem of Bill Clinton’s election campaign for Presidency of the United States and of the NBA, and ran for fourteen consecutive weeks as number one on the American Top Ten. It even managed to get Prince Albert of Monaco to dance to the rhythm of “Dale a tu cuerpo alegría, Macarena. Dale a tu cuerpo alegría y cosa buena”.

You could hear the song being played and sung right across the planet, which explains why Jealsa had to battle in court to hold on to the adaptation rights over the song it had acquired. And with the happy sound of the “Macarena” version, an alliance was forged between the Rianxeira cannery and the musical duo, an alliance that, years later, would bring them to the local town festivities in Boiro to sing that wonderful adaptation.