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SBD Global/July 23, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Unrest In Brazil Heightens Concerns For Marketers Ahead Of World Cup

Protesters want spending for schools and health care rather than football stadiums.
Momentum Worldwide CEO Chris Weil "got a call from the head of his agency’s Brazilian office moments after last month’s Confederations Cup final," according to Tripp Mickle of the SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. One of Momentum’s clients "wanted to postpone a World Cup marketing program that was slated to begin right after the tournament." Weil "wasn’t surprised." The company "was the second of three Momentum clients to postpone promotions." Weil said, "Anybody who is down there and on the ground understands because part of the protest is around the money being spent on stadiums and infrastructure and not being spent on the emerging middle class. That’s the crux of where you could come out tone deaf as a supporter if you are a Brazilian company. Having said that, I don’t think it’s a complete pullback. It’s a timing issue." Momentum’s clients "aren’t the only ones re-evaluating the Brazilian market after last month’s jarring protests." The protests "have led several brands and sports marketing agencies to make adjustments on everything from increasing staff and adding security to reviewing transportation plans and evaluating marketing programs ahead of next year’s World Cup." But brands and agencies alike "remain optimistic about the value and potential for sports marketing in Brazil during next summer’s World Cup, the 2016 Rio Olympics and the years that follow." European marketing magazine The Drum reported Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent said, "Where there’s no risk there is no reward, and the opportunities are so much greater that I am sure they are going to be very memorable, fantastic events." Coke "stuck with its marketing plans in Brazil during the Confederations Cup despite the protests." Similarly, McDonald’s and Visa "continued to run World Cup marketing and promotions in Brazil during and after the Confederations Cup," and McDonald’s and Visa spokespeople said the protests won’t affect their future promotional plans there (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 7/22 issue).

GETTING READY: AD AGE's Laurel Wentz reported the protests' ire "appeared directed at the government, with no apparent animosity toward corporations." Indeed, protesters even adopted a popular song from a Fiat commercial with the refrain "Come to the street" as their anthem. The month-long World Cup kicks off in mid-June next year. While the focus "will undoubtedly" be on football, the political climate "will be heightened further, with Brazil's presidential election looming in early October." Protests "appear inevitable." Adidas CEO Herbert Hainer said, "We fully acknowledge that the people in Brazil [will] use the platform of the World Cup to get awareness for their issues." With such massive investments, "big pullbacks are off the table." Sports & Entertainment firm Ketchum Managing Dir Ann Wool said, "You're preparing for seven or eight years for these global events, and every issue is going to come up at some point during that cycle -- political, environmental, infrastructure, natural disasters." Wool added by the time an event is just a year away, "your activation has already started and you're closely associated with the event." Brazil "hasn't gone into full crisis-management mode yet." PR firm FSB partner Falvio Castro said, "I don't want to minimize the problem, but I don't think the exercise of the democratic right to demonstrate should be seen as a tragedy or a stain on the country" (AD AGE, 7/22).
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