Category Archives: Marketing

Six reasons Neymar represents everything that’s wrong with Brazil and its wealthy elite

Although the advertising machine around Neymar works hard to make him appear a pretty nice guy, here’s six reasons why the footballer – rightly or wrongly – represents everything wrong with Brazil’s wealthy, corrupt elite and the crushing inequality these powerful figures create.

1) He, or the people around him, are corrupt: When Neymar signed for Barcelona its vice president Josep Maria Bartomeu said Neymar’s transfer fee was €87.2 million. They then declared the  official transfer fee on documents as €57 million, as €40 million “supposedly… flowed to a company which is close to Neymar’s family.”

Brazilian politicians are famously corrupt. One politician was elected to Brazil’s Congress while under investigation for murder after having an adversary killed with a chain saw. Another is wanted by Interpol after being found guilty of diverting more than $10 million from a public road project to offshore bank accounts. I can’t find the source but I read recently that 60 per cent of Brazilian politicians are currently under police investigation.

2) He’s rich: Neymar was making 1.5 million reais a year at just 16 years old. He makes 9 million euros a year now playing for Barcelona.

Similarly, Brazilian politicians are among the highest paid and least productive in the world.

And in the world of business the 15 Richest Families In Brazil are worth an estimated $122 billion — or about 5% of the country’s total GDP. Out of 65 Brazilian billionaires listed by FORBES in its World’s Billionaires list, 25 are blood relatives.

3) He’ll sell himself to the highest bidder: Neymar has sponsorship deals with Castrol, Red Bull, Volkswagen and Panasonic and an 11 year boot deal with Nike worth at least $1 million per year. There’s nothing wrong with footballers making hay while the sun shines, though.

Brazilian politicians see nothing wrong using the same “sponsorship” tactics, however. Municipal and state officials are close to the mega-corporations that run Brazil’s construction, beverage, transport, energy and food industries. The cost of building Brasilia’s World Cup stadium nearly tripled to $900m in public funds, for example, largely due to allegedly fraudulent billing.

This after the construction company for Brasilia’s stadium increased its political donations 500-fold in the most recent election.

4) He’s light-skinned: Neymar’s dying his hair blonde might seem insignificant, but it takes on huge cultural significance in a country that has a legacy of slavery and inequality. It’s known as “Branqueamento”, (“Whitening”) and can lead to a prosperous shift from the darker-skinned underclass to the lighter-skinned Brazilian elite.

Neymar a few days ago: tall and tanned and young and blonde?
Neymar before the Brazil-Mexico game: tall and tanned and young and blonde.

Over 70 per cent of Brazilian politicians are light-skinned.

The Berkeley Review suggests this is because white Brazilians have more money on average than non-whites. Brazilian politicians elected to office had significantly higher mean total assets, at 432,000 Brazilian reais (R$), than those who were not elected, whose average assets totaled only R$188,000. White Brazilians have an average net worth of R$440,000, compared to R$247,000 for non-whites, indicating that on average white politicians simply have more cash to spend on campaigns than non-whites, and therefore gain power more easily.

5) He left Brazil: In 2010 Neymar’s agent said Neymar “wants to become the best player in the world. The chances of him doing that while playing in Brazil are zero.” Neymar added that  it was a “dream” of his “to play in Europe”.

There’s nothing against a football player wanting to play for one of the biggest teams in the world, and those teams are in Europe. But it is a familiar desire amongst the wealthy Brazilian elite to leave the country (they have the power to change, rather than rob from) and in which they have made their fortune to hide their money in Cayman Islands bank accounts or spend it on handbags, iPhones and suits in New York and Europe.

In 2005 a senior politician in Lula’s government was seized at an airport with $100,000 in his underwear as part of the Mensalão corruption saga.

6) He’s not afraid of backing out on a promise: Neymar promised his youth club Santos he wouldn’t leave them until after the 2014 World Cup. Santos consequently doubled his wages to raise him to European footballer salary levels.

…And in 2013 Neymar signed for Barcelona, anyway.

Politicians are familiar with breaking promises. A trainline between Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro promised for the 2014 World Cup has, as of today, never even started. A huge number of World Cup projects remain unfinished or were never started. Belo Horizonte’s metro system was supposed to be extended for the World Cup. As of today it has one line.

Dilma, Cade o Metro? ("Where is the Metro?")
Dilma, Cade o Metro? (“Where is the Metro?”)

So there you have it; six reasons why Neymar represents everything that wrong with Brazil and its wealthy elite.


Brazilian advertising posters for beer, cosmetics, planes and from 1890 to 1939

A look through some Brazilian advertisements from 1900 to 1939 for fortification medicines, air-travel, Antartica beer, a kid’s almanac that rips off Mickey and Minnie Mouse, baby milk-powder, cigarettes, hats, stockings and cold medicine.

These Brazilian adverts are interesting as they reveal some of the preoccupations, dreams and lifestyle choices of wealthy Brazilians at the turn of the 1900’s until the Second World War. Illness, travel, drinking, smoking and looking good are all focused upon, suggesting that some appeals remain universal.

Farinha Lactea Nestle (1916) is a now-controversial ad for baby milk-powder, in which a newborn baby is being fed Nestle’s “Milk Flour” substitute in its bottle:

Farinha Lactea Nestle

The creepiest ad is this one for Bromil cough medicine, in which the devil pours a drink as Death creeps in the background. The tagline is “The death of death”, whatever that means:

Bromil cough medicine

Antartica beer and Guarana soda are both still sold in Brazil to this day:

Guarana Antartica beer

Pan-Air’s “Brazilian Clipper”: Notice how the planes go right along Brazil’s coast, cutting in only once to the Amazonian city of Manaus:

Pan-Air Brazilian Clipper

Instantina’s little cough-mints in a Tintin-esque cartoon style. The tagline is “If it’s Bayer it’s good”:

Instantina cough medicine

Quinddo Constantino being sold as a liquor, a medicine, a tonic and good for the constitution, but probably actually just some of sweet sherry:


Mousseline Tights: These tights will make you look sophisticated in any scenario, even if you’re just reading a book in a tree:

Mousseline tights

Almanach do o Tico-Tico: This kid’s almanac from 1936 is ripping off Mickey and Minnie Mouse:

Almanach do O Tico-Tico 1936

Biotonico Fontoura: This ad doesn’t even show the product, just a couple of hyper-futuristic swimsuit-wearers looking up at the latest technological advance, the aeroplane:

BIOTONICA FONTOURA fortification medicine

PS. Why don’t we have “fortifying drinks” anymore? Are Red Bull and Vitamin-Water the modern equivalents?

Brunette hat-sellers in Sao Paulo:


And finally, La Reine Veado (translated: “The queen deer”, a pun on “Reindeer”), the “chic” cigarette:

La Reine Veado cigarettes

“DROP THIS BACKWARDS BRAZIL” – Brazilian fashion designer ignites controversy with anti-bureaucracy rant to “Abaixo este brasil atrasado”

The catwalk yesterday. (Also, one of the beautiful faces in this image is top transexual model Lea T).
The catwalk yesterday. (Also, one of the beautiful faces in this image is top transexual model Lea T).

“Abaixo este brasil atrasado.”

The final catwalk-run by Brazilian designer Time Ellus (“Team Ellus”) featured a t-shirt slogan calling for the Brazilian government to catch up with the rest of the world by removing the inefficiency, corruption and lack of productivity that makes its traffic, airports, hospitals, schools and by definition its economy, so sluggish and slow.

Although it sounds like a call for a better society, the mission statement issued by the designer afterwards focused more on the fashion world and its problem with homegrown Brazilian designers being forced out of the market by cheap foreign imports “from poor countries”.

The slogan was never really about improving the situation for Brazil’s poor, who make minimum salaries of US$300 a month (in a country where an iPhone sells for US$1,250) and suffer terrible public schooling, transport and health systems, but about the fashion world getting better business breaks and tax-cuts.

Is there a problem with a rich, white Brazilian designer jumping on the “corruption/bureaucracy/failing public education and health sector bandwagon to promote her own personal commercial interests? A fashion designer who almost certainly went to a private school for her education, a private hospital when she was sick and travels the world in luxury, attending the most fabulous parties in the gentrified air of some of Rio de Janeiro’s best hotels?

A better writer than me has summed up the hypocritical issue of rich Brazilians complaining about Brazil’s social problems they themselves are financially and ideologically-intertwined within, so I won’t try.

Instead, here’s the statement “Team Ellus” released following the catwalk run for you to decide by yourself (Portuguese below):


Brazil is clogged, congested in everything. The transit system, airports, hospitals, roads, energy, schools, communications, bureaucracy (corruption), all don’t work… Even the water system’s blocked!
It’s difficult for everyone! Nothing flows! Everything is so difficult! All this trouble costs us.  Brazil = inefficiency, lack of productivity. That means we stay isolated from the rest of the world, making us fall behind in relation to the rest of the modern world.
It’s clear that those most responsible are the old-fashioned, pencil-pushing, quasi-medieval politicians and governors, with their backward ideas of protectionism just creating more and more atrophy (in the business market). 
Within the fashion industry, exporting our designs is too difficult with all of these issues, and, because we don’t have the right conditions to be able to compete, it creates an opportunity for clothes and accessories to just be imported from poor countries.
We need to cut red-tape and simplify the system to motivate, advance, open and internationalise ourselves, because if not, everytime we fall back we get more and more isolated in the glaciers of the South Pole.
What kind of Brazil is this where businesses and public fortunes are just destroyed?!?! 
– Team Ellus
And the original Portuguese:
DESABAFOO Brasil está entupido, um congestionamento em tudo. Não anda no trânsito, nos aeroportos, nos hospitais, nas estradas, na energia, nas escolas, na comunicação, na burocracia (corrupção)… Até a água está entupida!Dificuldade para tudo! As coisas não fluem! Tudo é tão difícil! Tudo isso gerando esse custo. Brasil = ineficiência, improdutividade. Isso faz com que fiquemos isolados do mundo, acarretando esse atraso todo em relação ao mundo moderno.É claro que os maiores responsáveis são os políticos e os governos antiquados, cartoriais, quase medievais, que com suas ideias atrasadas de protecionismo acabam por gerar atrofia.

Até para indústria da moda, exportar o nosso design fica difícil com todo esse custo, abrindo espaço maior para as importações de roupas e acessórios provenientes de países pobres, porque nós não temos condições de competir.

Precisamos desburocratizar, simplificar para motivar, avançar, abrir, internacionalizar, se não, cada vez mais, ficaremos isolados nas geleiras do Polo Sul.

Que Brasil é esse em que até as empresas e patrimônios públicos acabam destruídos?!?!


Time Ellus

Six steps for dressing flashy in Brazil: youth edition

How do young Brazilians show off in a country riddled with poverty, where Brazil’s richest 10% earn in one month what the poorest 10% make in more than three years? 

You’re going to need designer clothes, sunglasses and sneakers to show you’re not just a favela kid, that you’re ambitious and going places.

Buying designer clothes and jewellery – rather than saving your money or moving into your own place (many Brazilians live at home until they marry) – is the most economically-astute way of showing off your wealth in a country like Brazil, because more people will see your clothes than the inside of your house.

Spending money on ostentatious clothes rather than more subtle indicators of wealth like learning another language or saving up for rent helps to coin in that delicious “status” currency that Brazilians need to get by.

So here’s what you need to be wearing if you want to fit in with the Brazilian kids.

A young Brazilian man wearing a Hollister shirt

1) Hollister, Quiksilver or Abercrombie shirts. They must have ludicrously large lettering spelling out designer names, and the badge has to be a few times larger than normal.

2) Mirrored sunglasses in either blue, red or rainbow.

3) Neon, candy-coloured Nike or Adidas trainers. Keep them clean.

4) Multi-coloured braces. All Brazilians want perfectly-straight teeth, and if you’re going to wear them you may as well rock it.

Multi-coloured braces in Brazil

5) A cool baseball cap, the peak straight, hanging half off your head.

And you’re ready to hit the streets. Or the night-club. Or church.

The celebration of designer clothes, cars and alcohol aimed at the poorest members of Brazilian society all links to music like Funk Ostentação (Ostentatious Music) in Brazil, where ostentation is applauded and encouraged, even when the money you’re throwing around is fake.

Brazil labels marketing to children an “abusive practice”, bans it completely

Brazil’s National Council for the Rights of Children and Adolescents (Conanda) unanimously passed Resolution 163 this week, declaring that targeting children with advertising with the intent of persuading them to consume a product or buy a service is an essentially “abusive practice”, and now banned.  

Commercial advertisements in print, TV, radio and electronic media, plus packaging, promotions, product placement in kid’s shows are all banned for kids under 12 and restricted for 12-18-year-olds.

The ban also takes in marketing communication within nurseries and schools, including the sponsorship of school uniforms and learning materials. Only advertising aimed at educating children about good nutrition, safety, education, health and other aspects of children’s social development will be allowed.

Brazil’s National Council for Food and Nutrition Security (CONSEA) welcomed the ban, stating that advertising aimed at children is intrinsically related to rising obesity levels in Brazilian children.

Little Brazilian girl drinking a full bottle of Coca-cola