I’ve just spent the best part of a week in Sao Paulo, the largest city of the world’s fifth largest country and host to the opening game of the World Cup on June 12. It was a talking trip: meetings and presentations, dinners and drinks, negotiations and combat, inspiration and joy. Brazil is just that sort of place, physical intensity and emotional liveliness coming at you from all points.
There is a lot being written by world economic and political commentators about Brazil on the eve of the World Cup, and a lot of it is not especially positive. The fact these headlines could be about many countries is not mitigation. World Cups and Olympics are meant to be peak moments for hosts, so its my hope that in the next seven weeks the PR and communications maestros of this fun and festive nation put on their best party hats and story lines and show the world that this is a country to be taken seriously…and to be enjoyed enormously.
One of my presentations was at the company that makes Havaianas, Alpargatas, the largest public footwear company in Latin America . Havaianas are a global Lovemark and all the more so for their multicultural origins – created by a Scotsman Robert Fraser who had migrated to Brazil to manufacture low cost footwear, inspired by Japanese zori sandals, with the brand meaning “Hawaiians” in Portuguese. Don’t ask questions, just go with it, it’s Brazil and they make 150 million pairs a year.
Havaianas represented a face of Brazil that people (including , most importantly, Brazilians) love – vibrant colors, youthfulness, sensuality, joy and fun. Let this spirit permeate World Cup 2014 – and let the parallel story rapidly emerge about abundant natural resources, energy and food independence, sophisticated manufacturing, vibrant media, a functional democracy, and a passionate people.
There’s a big story to tell Brazil, don’t miss your moment, on the field or off it. Go Neymar!