How Brands Can Help the Summer Olympics—and Brazil—Thrive Again

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As an agency leader in Brazil, I see that we’re on the verge of a very exciting time for brand opportunities that make memories, connections and impact. Indeed, as someone living in Brazil, there’s something bigger on the horizon—the feeling that a better life experience is headed our way.

Maria Laura Nicotero Alex Fine

Quite simply, the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games bring hope to our country. Hosting the experience can often open the door for access to food, education and connections that increase the quality of local life. We know that when a culture is impacted by the games, people feel motivated to participate and their children are encouraged to build structured paths, opening up a range of opportunities for a better country.

The excitement has been underway for a while: As soon as the final whistle of the World Cup was blown, brands were off and running to start their activations for the 2016 Olympic Games. With a measured time to plan outstanding activations for the world’s biggest sporting event, brands have a great challenge ahead: extrapolate the sport, and add entertainment, culture and art to engagements. The brands that win will understand the energy, the opportunity and importance of this global moment, and should keep these three themes in mind.

Inclusion and energy: It’s worth considering the lessons learned in events past, wherein successful companies relied on creating an attractive atmosphere even for those who are not big fans of the most contested events. Inclusion achieves the best results. As a Brazilian, I feel the atmosphere will be positive and engaging during the Rio games. Brazilian people are known for their excitement and support for festivities, despite their difficult lives. We are very close to sports, and our climate makes people want to leave the house and walk, jog, play volleyball—just to be physical. Because of this, I believe the majority of the population will welcome the Olympics and the thematic programming that will be held in each city.

Soccer, of course, is part of the Brazilian’s DNA. It went from a simple sport to being vital to national culture. Especially given the poor performance of our team at the 2014 World Cup, and with the disruptive political-economic scenario that continues today, people are in need of positive motivation—an energy that will get people cheering for the best. I think these games will be that important good news.

Brand celebration: The Rio Olympics bring opportunity for brands to build and maintain a positive image and take their awareness to the next level. This is an experience where “like” can become love.

For example, we have Banco Bradesco ( full disclosure, a Momentum client). The bank is the sole Brazilian sponsor of the Olympic Torch Relay. This warm-up takes place in cities across the country 100 days before the games begin in Rio de Janeiro. For the relay, already considered the biggest activation event ever held in Brazil, the bank conducted comprehensive prep work to select 1,750 torchbearers, and is currently creating several interactions in the 329 cities along the route. When we take into account the continental dimensions of Brazil, the brand activation is one of the biggest opportunities to monetize by activating the sport itself and also through the construction of a material and emotional legacy.

Brands above and beyond: Agencies need to make real, daily efforts to get brands into the minds and hearts of consumers, but if they want to show their uniqueness, creativity and innovation to the market, this is the place, and this is the time. It’s worth noting that in terms of making real human connections on a global scale, I think the Paralympic Games should get the same attention from brands and agencies. As we saw from the previous event in London, one of the advantages in partnering with the Paralympics is the smaller number of restrictions imposed by the organizers, which favors more creative opportunities for marketers

Across the full Olympic and Paralympic experience, the level of commitment and action has increased with each event, and agencies and brands need to be tuned in, quick to seize the moment and make good use of creativity, audacity and technology.

Yes, there are concerns we need to address as we prepare to host the globe, but given all the visibility for the beauty of Brazil, and the opportunities given brands and agencies to improve and break records, goodness and growth will happen.

I hope the Olympics bring unity to our people who are going through a period where good news is much needed to strengthen our hope for a better country for all. And I hope the brands will be remembered as creatively taking part in this change and that they will reach their goals and continue to invest in our country.

That would be the real gold medal to share with everyone.

Maria Laura Nicotero (@mlnicotero) is president of Momentum Brazil.

This story first appeared in the June 27, 2016 issue of Adweek magazine.
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