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The Brazilian Job

How to deliver brand events in Brazil...

2015 is approaching fast. For us, it’s already shaping up to be an exciting year with plenty in the pipeline. Yet as next summer approaches, a twinge of sadness will begin to descend on a large section of our team. Wistful glances made towards the Brazuca ball that sits on our reception shelf, caipirinhas creeping onto Friday’s drinks requests.

For it’ll be the first summer since 2012 that they haven’t packed their Havaianas and headed to Brazil. We were lucky enough to deliver experiential events at both the FIFA Confederations Cup and the FIFA World Cup, gaining invaluable experience of working efficiently and effectively in this incredible country during its hosting of major sporting events.

With the Rio Olympic Games in 2016, the story continues for Brazil on the big sporting stage. And it’s fast approaching, with the World Cup already a fond but increasingly distant memory. Rio 2016 promises to be a spectacular Olympic Games, with unique opportunities for brands to connect with the throngs of spectators pouring into the city. So we asked our team for their most valuable tips for brands looking to implement experiential events in Brazil…

Do your research...

Particularly in terms of suppliers. There are all manner of them, across any discipline or industry you can fathom. Yet we found very quickly that the good ones are often affiliated to a handful of large organisations. So you can save time by researching the big guns first.

The different array of services and products that suppliers provide in Brazil are split differently than in other parts of the world. For example our brilliant print suppliers specialised in paper or plastics, but no supplier offered both. So although it’s possible to find specialists, you may need more than one.

In terms of materials and technology, it will benefit you greatly to use what’s there. Importing materials is very costly and time-consuming, but conversely, complex items might be scarce or unavailable altogether. So research and plan ahead.

Also, if it’s your first time over there, read up on Brazilian culture. Even a basic grasp of local customs and ways of life helps hugely. A little Portuguese lingo will go a long way too.

Forge relationships...

We found Brazilians to be a warm, friendly and accepting bunch, and so as you’d expect, personal relationships are extremely important to them. There’s little distinction between business associate and friend, so invest in these connections and you’ll reap the rewards both personally and professionally.

Just bear this in mind though. Sometimes they don’t feel they can admit not being able to deliver something for fear of letting you down. So if you’re working as a partnership or on a supplier level, focus on building trust in ways that mean you can recognise this and use your good relationship to manage the situation.

Relax!

Running a little late? Don’t worry too much. Due to the appalling traffic in most towns and cities, Brazilians tend to operate on slightly more relaxed schedules than we’re used to.

You may need to get used to your counterparts’ attitudes to timekeeping – an hour’s grace can be standard practice. If this isn’t what you’re used to, then unfortunately it may just have to be while you’re there!

On the subject of meetings, the Latin American fieriness occasionally flares up as points are debated. For us it took a little getting used to, but actually seeing such open passion and commitment to our projects ended up being quite refreshing and invigorating.

Time and money...

Give yourself plenty of both!

Brazil isn’t a cheap country to operate in. If you’re in Rio and Rio only during the Olympics, you may be less affected by travel expenses. But are you bringing in materials from elsewhere in Brazil? Not only is it the world’s fifth largest country, but import taxes apply across state lines too. So be careful, as the costs do start to accumulate if you’re not.

It’s also worth noting that in our experience Brazilians never eat lunch at their desks. It’s always a meal out, and it’s always a full hour. Once we knew little things like that, it helped us plan our days much more effectively (and also get to know our partners better away from the office).

Build it there...

Even if you do have to source what you need from elsewhere in Brazil, it’s still much more cost-effective than bringing it from home. Import tax is an extortionate and complicated affair, and the cost of shipping things over there and getting them into the country will far exceed the alternative of sourcing them from within Brazil.

But as we’ve already touched on, it’s imperative to thoroughly explore what’s available, where it needs to be sourced from, and whether you can get hold of it for the time you need it. Certain materials (technological or structural) are mightily scarce, especially during big events.

Don’t let your whole plan fall down over one piece of equipment, and be flexible with the way you solve technical problems.

Enjoy it...

Working in Brazil is highly enjoyable and rewarding, especially if you take a moment to fully appreciate it. As we’ve mentioned, you’ll find your Brazilian friends to be extremely hospitable hosts, and ultimately friends for life. So as long as you’re not frantically running round thanks to lack of time or money (we did warn you!) you’ll surely relish your experience – and be able to achieve all you set out to from a professional perspective in the process.

We had the most incredible time out there, working extremely hard but always pleasantly wary (especially in Rio de Janeiro) that we were slap bang in one of the most beautiful environments in the world. And once we understood how things work and what to expect, any challenge could be managed and overcome in collaboration with our new business associates…sorry, friends.

 

- Guy Tremlett
Creative Director, SET LIVE