With Brazil set to host the 2014 Football World Cup, followed by the 2016 Olympic Games, the vibrant Latin American country is asserting itself on the world stage and fast becoming a focal point for marketers across the globe. I was fortunate enough to experience firsthand the cultural diversity and creative energy of Brazil during a recent IPA study tour which took in the sights of Sao Paulo, Rio and Recife - the country's business, entertainment and tech hubs, respectively. The trip was part of the IPA's international outreach programme to promote the UK and its world leading creative industries, and to develop long-term business links with Brazil during the Olympic handover period.
With the support of the UKTI and British Council as well as the IPA's counterparts in Brazil, the study tour took in a varied itinerary of meetings with industry luminaries, agency visits and tours and working sessions. The IPA delegation was privy to a fascinating presentation on the shifting mindsets and social changes at play among Brazilian consumers, conducted by research agency Limo, which brought into sharp focus the impact of this rapid prosperity on the wider Brazilian population. Access to technology has been a massive driver for the Brazilian consumer, with internet connectivity almost doubling over the last five years. The increase in internet access is also facilitating access to education and knowledge for a country where the prices of computers and access to mobile technology have been kept deliberately low by a government eager to educate its citizens.
The speed at which Brazil has risen to the fore internationally is astonishing, currently sitting as the sixth largest economy in the world. Unemployment has sunk to 5.6%, down from 13.5% - a remarkable statistic for a country with a population of 200 million. Bearing in mind that the UK figure currently stands at 7.8%, in a country numbering around 65 million, it's a testament to the sheer economic powerhouse that is Brazil. Over the past ten years, 40 million Brazilian people have entered the middle classes with disposable income to share, and car ownership has increased with two million vehicle sales - in a country starting almost from scratch on car ownership.
This economic growth has also had a profound effect on social media use - Brazil is now the second largest market after the US for Facebook use, with some 40.3 million people actively engaged with social media on a regular basis. Pay TV is also on the rise with 45 million subscribers, and 15.4 million smartphones were purchased in Brazil in 2012 - an increase of 73% in ownership.
While Brazilians are now becoming much more widely educated and fully tech - connected consumers, much of the advertising landscape is still very TV focused. Mass TV advertising still guarantees near universal penetration of campaigns and there are some notable political issues which may trouble adventurous UK companies looking at the market with envy. For example, it is illegal to be a media buying agency in Brazil. As a hangover from state controlled media, all media buying is undertaken directly by full service advertising houses in Brazil, rather than separate entities as in the UK market. Equally the well publicised ban on outdoor advertising in Sao Paulo - a city of some 20 million people - could be a barrier. However this can only change as the Brazilian creative industries grow and evolve with digital and branded content more baked in. One of the key strengths of the Brazilian advertising and communications landscape, and helping to give rise to its creativity, is its diversity. This is apparent in much of Brazil's creative work where a strong cosmopolitan outlook is so conducive to generating such powerful creativity. Witness Cannes successes such as the Radio Grand Prix for 'Go Outside' magazine's Repellent Radio ad from Sao Paulo based Talent, or Ogilvy + Mather's Sprite Shower or Claro promo and print Golds, respectively.
The Brazilian market is certainly exciting, and while it can be a challenge to crack, the rewards are there in abundance; and with the eyes of the world turned to them in 2014 and 2016, it will no doubt thrive even more.