We had an inside scoop at one of the biggest marketing events in the world: The Olympic Games. Our Social Media Coordinator, Katie Normand, visited Brazil during the games. Here’s her take on what she saw…
When the 2016 Summer Olympics kicked off a few weeks ago, Brazil shocked the world with a controversial Opening Ceremonies, addressing colonialism, slavery, and global warming. It was a portrayal of the greater theme that’s plastered all over the streets of Rio: “Um mundo novo” – a new world.
Before visiting the country, I would’ve scoffed at the idea. Brazil has been notorious for corrupted business, political unrest, deforestation, and, of course, the Zika virus. But I have to admit: the country really surprised me.
I traveled around for about a week and a half until finally ending up in Rio on the day of the Opening Ceremonies. One of the stops was Bonito (which translates to “beautiful”), a small town, but a major hub of eco-tourism in Brazil. From the town, we were driven on dirt roads out into the country to snorkel in the river, climb waterfalls, and explore caves.
We were told that we were not allowed to wear bug spray or sunscreen while participating in these adventures, as the oils would contaminate the water. I was shocked, but when I saw how beautiful and clear the water was, I understood. This was not something I expected from a country in which you can’t drink the tap water.
(And for all those who are curious: even while swimming in a river with no bug spray, Zika was not an issue. I never got so much as a mosquito bite, and my sister, who constantly gets bitten, has lived in Brazil for a year and has never gotten the virus.)
When I finally arrived in Rio, strangely, one of the first things I noticed was how many trash receptacles there were in the airport. They had different sections for every type of recycling, and one section for non-recyclable trash. I’d seen this in the US, but not to this extent. As I explored the city, it was actually harder to find a trash can than a recycling bin. Coca Cola, one of the biggest sponsors of the Olympic Games, even had a Recycling Team that walked around Olympic Park collecting litter.
Then, right in the middle of the Olympic Boulevard, just around the corner from the Olympic torch, stood a funky looking building called Museo d’Amanha, or “Museum of Tomorrow.” The museum was all about our world’s progress. In their own words:
“We live in a new era in which all human activity has become a force of global impact. We are capable of intervening at the molecule and continent levels. We deal with atoms and create microorganisms. We divert the course of great rivers, change forests, influence the atmosphere, and transform the climate…The Museum of Tomorrow, offers a narrative about how we can live and shape the next 50 years…Guided by the ethical values of Sustainability and Coexistence, essential to our civilization, the Museum also seeks to promote innovation, disseminate the advances of science and publish the vital signs of the planet. A museum to expand our knowledge and transform the way we think and act.” – Museo d’Amanha
The museum was fascinating, discussing where we’ve come from and where we’re going as a planet. Though seemingly hypocritical from the country responsible for some of the worst deforestation in the world, it sent such a powerful message and reached a huge number of people from all over the world, as the crowd from Olympic Boulevard poured in.
When I was asked to keep an eye for efforts in sustainability, I was worried that I’d have nothing about which to write. But Brazil came through for me. Even the Olympic medals are also the most sustainable they have ever been. These are small steps, but it was nice to see that the message they were trying to send with Opening Ceremonies and the “New World” theme weren’t just for show. Overall, despite their current issues, Brazilians really do love their country. It was nice to see there are still good people working hard to preserve what they have left.
A few marketing observations:
- Visa was the official card of the Olympic Games, which means it was the only accepted card within the stadiums and parks. No Visa card? No food, drinks, or souvenirs.
- McDonald’s had full restaurants in the Olympic Park.
- Nissan had cars whose doors and hoods opened and closed, in sync with music and the dancers out front.
- Coca Cola had the most disruptive marketing by far. As people waited in a line for a half hour or more to get into their booth, they had entertainers running through the line dancing, pretending to play different sports, singing the “Taste the Feeling” song from their commercials, and shouting “Isso e oro!” (“This is gold!”) They got their hands on 3 of the Olympic torches used to bring the flame from Greece, and allowed visitors to take photos holding them. Plus everyone got a free, “exclusive” gold bottle of Coke.