Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Here in Brazil, there is a very large jewlrey chain called H. Stern… or at least it seems very large, because their brand is promoted everywhere.  And I mean everywhere.  In hotels, on the back of room keys, on the side of busses…  In fact, if I didn’t know any better I would think H. Stern was the only company in Brazil.

One day last week, our MBA group was boarding our tour bus, and a representative from H. Stern was standing outside handing us product samples from their store.  “Hm…” I silently thought to myself.  “Handing out expensive product samples of 10,000R plus gemstones to a group of 24 broke college student.  What a ‘great’ spend of your marketing dollars.”  Oh well, I wasn’t too bothered by it, as I did get a pretty star-shaped charm out of the transaction.

So the very next day, as we’re (again) boarding our bus, we see another representative handing out product samples.  As I approached the door of the bus, he hands me a piece of jewelry and says, “Hi, I’m [Insert complicated Portuguese name I can't pronounce] from [Insert company name I don't remember, but only because its not plastered on the back of every hotel room key in the city] a competitor of H. Stern.  Buy from us instead.”  All right; duly noted. 

It seems as if jewelry companies in Brazil have learned the value of ambush marketing.  Unfortunately for them, I doubt either one of these firms will be realizing sales from us any time soon.


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Continuing my previous blog post, of course I must talk about our fabulous time sightseeing.  When visiting Rio, there is typically one of two things tourists must do during their stay – visit the Jesus statue, and take a tram up to Sugarloaf.  So naturally, we did both. 

First we went to see Christ the Redeemer, a national monument that is nearly synonymous with the word “Rio.”  You can practically see this guy from anywhere in the city, but heading up to the mountain and staring up at him from the top was a whole different story, and as one of the seven wonders of the modern world, he was truly incredible to admire.  We learned from our tour guide that he will be lit up yellow at night this month, instead of the typical white, to raise awareness and media coverage for safe driving.    

The tram to Sugarloaf Mountain is split in two rides – the first portion takes you to the lower part of Sugarloaf, where you can walk around, take photos, and grab a bit to eat or shop for souvenirs.  The second part takes you to the very top of the mountain.  And of course, with our luck, it started pouring down rain right as we stepped into the second tram to head to the top.  Despite the torrential downpour, the view from the top was absolutely phenomenal, and I have lots of pictures and videos to prove it!


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Wow, I don’t even know where to begin when blogging about the last couple of days here in Rio de Janeiro.  To the 2 or 3 of you who have been reading my blog posts religiously (hi mom and dad!) you have probably been thinking, “OK, awesome, Andrea’s getting 3 school credits for drinking coconut water on the beach…”  Oh but that can’t be any further from the truth.

Of course, working for the Olympics has been a bit of a different experience for us in comparison to other IRPs; one, because we haven’t necessarily had just one specific “client” we are reporting to, and two, many of the people who will benefit from our research haven’t yet been identified, since the Olympics in Rio are still five years away.  As such, ROCOG executives are still working on laying out the long-term strategy and filling positions as fit.  But Professor Deply Neirotti did want to make sure we had the opportunity to ask all the questions we needed to “in one fall swoop” in order to complete our projects, so she arranged one afternoon for us to meet with about 10 different executives from the Brazilian Olympic committee in half-hour increments.  The executives we met with came in, briefly talked about their role in the ROCOG, then answered our questions.  During the course of the afternoon we listened to executives in positions ranging from the Director of Digital Communications, to the Games Technology Manager, to the C3, Governance and Planning Integration General Manager (I wonder if that job title fits on her business card?)  It was quite the whirlwind of a day, but also an incredible way to get all of our questions answered so that we can better refine our respective presentations and research papers and learn how a local Olympic organizing committee operates, especially this far in advance of the Games.

In the morning, before we headed over to the Olympic offices, Alexandar Leitao, the President of Octagon Brazil, stopped by our hotel to speak to us about the evolution of sports marketing and corporate sponsorships in Latin America.  Mr. Leitao’s background isn’t in sports directly (he just came over to Octagon about 6 months ago) but he worked at AmBev for many years, thus he started out moreso on the sponsor side of the industry.  It was very interesting to hear him speak, and particularly relevant to my group’s research focus – spectator experience.  Among the topics Mr. Leitao touched upon, he spent a lot of time walking us through how the Brazilian sports fan is different than the American fan.  In the US, for example, our fandom centers around the team and athletes (ie, if you’re an Eagles fan, you’re an EAGLES fan), whereas in Brazil, it is all about the love for the game (ie, you may be a fan of a specific team, but at the end of the day, you’re a football fan).  So to put it in a business context, if you’re a brand trying to enter the Brazilian market through a large sporting event such as the Olympics, you most likely wouldn’t want to center your campaign around the team as much as the rings and the values they encompass.  No matter what kind of sports fan you’re working, though, one thing always remains consistent – it’s all about the fan.  Sports marketing, especially on the agency side, is about understanding the fan, and knowing how to engage them to drive results for your client’s business.  And in terms of spectator experience, when you know why fans are fans, it is much easier to deliver the experience they are seeking through their admiration of sports.

Overall, a fantastic day of meetings, and it really helped us clarify a lot of the questions we had regarding the projects we’re working on.

On Friday, we had a free day in the morning to work on our projects (and the pouring rain in Brazil was a great motivator to stay inside and actually work) and in the evening our group headed back to PUC for a panel discussion featuring our very own Lisa Deply Neirotti, followed by Luiz Fernando Lima from Central Globo de Esportes, one of the leading broadcast stations in Brazil.  He began by walking us through the media landscape in Brazil, and then talked about Globo and its role in shaping the sports environment in Braizil.  After the panel discussion, PUC put on a lovely reception for all of us, and then we all went home and tucked ourselves into bed to prep for a long day of sightseeing ahead.

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Not being a huge fan of steak, I, for one, am glad that Brazil has such a wide variety of options available.  last night, for example, a few of us went out to a really nice gourmet pizza dinner.

Since Brazil is known for its meat, however, of course I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try a few bites.  In the words of Chris Wienbeck, it was “sooo good!”


Nada, on the other hand, was not quite so happy with her option.

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Checking in again from Rio de Janeiro!  Where were we…

Two nights ago, our IRP group enjoyed a wonderful GW alumni reception on the roof deck of our hotel.  Many alumni were in attendance, including some who we had previously met with in meetings the day before, so it was great to meet and mingle with fellow Colonials.  Yesterday, we actually got to visit some of the venues that Rio2016 plans to use for some of the events, including the aquatics training facility, cycling, and basketball, and the Director of Venue Operations walked us through Rio’s long-term construction plan.

Instead of writing about the different venues we visited, though, I thought it would be best to simply show you through some of the best photos I took from the past two day’s events.  Also see the video, which shows Rio2016’s plans as they work toward laying the groundwork for Olympic venue and infrastructure configuration.


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After two sun-filled days of play, our IRP group finally got down to some business.  We awoke and met in the lobby bright and early (well, 9am, which is “bright and early” in Brazilian time) and hopped on a bus to Barra, where our first meeting was to be held. 

The front of a favela. The govt. fixes up the front so that from the road, it doesn't look so bad.

On our way to Barra, one of the richest areas in Brazil, we passed by one of the largest favelas in South America.  Being from the US, where most prime real estate is located in the hills, we find it ironic that the favelas are built far up into the hills, while the most expensive housing is on the flattest land, but we learned that it is because the land in the hills is very unstable, so no people can legally build houses there.  In fact, last year extreme mudslides killed many, many people in Brazil, most being from the favela neighborhoods.  We also learned that, with a minimum wage of 540R per month (about 340 USD, and a cost of living comparable to DC) most people who live in the favelas make far below a living wage, with virtually no hope of even coming close to affording real housing. 

Francisco Havas

Our first meeting was with Francisco Havas of Havas Tours (also a GW alum), a destination management company that handles logistics for large-scale events such as the Olympics and World Cup.  He opened the meeting by showing us a video of some of the most attractive tourist attractions in Rio, then dove straight into a detailed discussion of the macroeconomic factors affecting tourism development in Brazil and, consequently, Rio2016.  To sum up his presentation, over the past 10 or so years, Brazil has experienced steady growth in international tourism revenue (close to about $6 billion in annual revenue today), but over the past few years the actual number of people visiting Brazil has stabilized around 5 million, mostly due to recent hyper-inflation and the rapidly appreciating Brazilian currency (in 2003, American travelers could get about 4R per 1USD, but today it is about 1.6R to 1USD).  So, tourism has developed, but not enough, but that is expected to change due to increased promotion for the country surrounding the World Cup and Olympic events.  However, the tourist capacity in Rio is currently only 28,000, so that gives you an idea of the massive amount of infrastructure that is needed to fill the increased demand for beds during and even after the upcoming events.  It is evident that Brazil has a lot of work to do leading up to the two megaevents it is hosting, but both events are expected to greatly boost the economy, including expected job creation of 32,000 (permanent) and 381,000 (temporary). 

A historical building on the PUC campus

Following our meeting with Mr. Havas, we hopped back on our tour bus and headed to Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC), a Catholic University in Gavea, where our next few meetings were set to be held.  The University, set right in the middle of a Brazilian rain forest, was beautiful, and they have one of the top MBA programs in Brazil.  While at PUC, our group was welcomed by the Dean of the Business School and a Professor of Marketing, then Paul Whealan, a FIFA Hospitality Planner from a company called Match, came to speak.  Mr. Whealan has lived in Rio for the past 5 years and his company manages accommodation, ticketing services, and computer solutions for the FIFA World Cup.  It was interesting to learn about the different types of logistical challenges that planners face when planning for a mega, multi-city event like the World Cup, versus a single-city event like the Olympics.  So much planning is required in advance of the World Cup because, whereas Olympic games and schedules are set years in advance, it is completely random with the World Cup, based on a draw that takes place only 6 months in advance, and then in between matches on who wins/loses/etc.  Sometimes they may only have 3 days to plan the logistics for teams and their hundreds of thousands of spectating fans.     

Professor Delpy and Paul Whealan

Last, we had Maureen Flores, the Director of Sustainability for Rio2016, visit our group.  She spent her time educating us on Rio2016’s sustainability initiatives, as well as the learnings she took away from the recent Sport and Environment Conference.  With a background in environmental policy, she was only hired to her current position about 6 months ago, so much of her work to date has been laying out plans for how Rio can meet both its environmental and social sustainability goals, as well as revising the goals that stakeholders have promised in efforts to ensure all objectives are realistic.  I was actually very surprised to learn how sustainable a country Rio is – for example, 70% of the country is hydropowered, and most cars are fueled by ethanol – so Maureen’s goal for Rio2016 is to raise the bar and have sustainability be one of the aspects of the Games that Rio leaves behind. 

All in all, a great first day of work.  We had a free day today to work on our projects (out by the pool, of course) and we are just getting ready to head to a GW alumni reception.      

The group with Maureen Flores


Side note: I was recently informed by tourism an branding group that if you Google “visit Brazil,” a blog post of mine is one of the first things that pops up :)


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I suppose you can say we were forewarned prior to selecting our IRP destination cities, but man, Brazil is expensive! At prices of at least 20 – 30R for a simple sandwich (think a slab of meat and somewhat stale bread) or salad, and upwards of 50R (31USD) for a decent Brazilian meat or fish dish at an average restaurant, let’s say that we won’t exactly return home with full pockets. (Oh, and they charge for everything. For example, Megan and I went to a little place near our hotel for dinner last night, and after reviewing our bill noticed that the restaurant had charged us 12R for entertainment. I suppose the “entertainment” was the girl with the guitar and microphone shoved in the corner?) Oh well, what’s that phrase again? When in Rio?

Anyway, our hotel has a free continental breakfast, and being from America where the phrase “free continental breakfast” is code for “let’s get the heck out of here and go eat somewhere else,” we weren’t expecting much. So fast-forward to this morning, we wake up, walk downstairs, and just look at the breakfast buffet, stunned. We went over to the front desk and said, “this is free,” just to confirm (it was), so with wide eyes we preceded to pile our plates (we each required 2) full of bacon, eggs, sausages and veggies, cheese breads, meat slices, fruits of all types (pineapple, papaya, passion fruit, watermelon, and bananas), pastries, yogurt, granola, and of course all the coffee and fresh-squeezed OJ we could ever drink. As we were walking over to find a seat, we kind of looked around, and of course all the non-Americans had just one or two things in front of them – a cup of coffee and a piece of fruit. And we wonder where on earth people develop their stereotypes of the typical American ;)

Of course, most everything here is farm fresh and organic, and as such, absolutely delicious. I went to the grocery store yesterday to pick up a few items, and wondered why the apples are so small and the bananas all so ripe. It’s because people here eat food the way it’s supposed to be eaten – fresh daily, non-hormone-injected and fed with real grass.

On a different note, our hotel is quite nice. Last night, Megan and I decided to both hit the sac a little early to rejuvenate our bodies from the 12+ hours of travel. After returning from dinner, we found a note shoved under our door from the front desk saying that there was going to be a little get together on the floor above us (aka, the pool deck) but it shouldn’t disturb us one bit. Ok, so we’re thinking quiet cocktail party, ending at midnight at the very latest. So we snuggled into bed around 10:30pm, only to be awoken at 2am by a dance floor full of people stomping and clapping in unison to American hip-hop. Of course we were irritated… that we weren’t invited!!

Today was another free day, so naturally, many of us spent it lounging on the beach. 10am – 3pm, to be exact (and for others, pretty much all day). The beaches here are funny because, ok well I’ve been to many places where people walk around trying to sell you stuff as you’re lounging (hey, I’m from Santa Monica!) but Rio is a whole different story. They walk up to you and ask you multiple times in a row until you finally put down your book, take off your sunglasses, make eye contact, and very un-politely shout, “no!” and right as one person leaves another hops in to take his place. Its like swating away flies.  But whatev, you win some, you lose some.  And yes, you really can drink straight out of a coconut.

After a full day of lounging, Josh, Ian, Jonathan and I went for another run, this time around the lake a few blocks behind our hotel. It was beautiful, but I think after, oh about mile 7 my vision started to blur. Of course afterward we were famished, so we joined a large group of us to find a place to eat. It always seems that the larger the group, the worse people are at making decisions, so after walking a while we finally said, “ok, next place we see, we’re eating!” We ended up at a nice little buffet that turned out to be a “pay for weight” type place (apparently they’re pretty common in Brazil?), and the food was pretty good.

All in all, a lovely, relaxing day. Tomorrow, the real work begins…


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It’s official – we’re finally here in Brazil! The weather’s gorgeous, and despite our extreme jet lag, as soon as we arrived at the hotel we dropped our stuff and hit the beach. Our flight was pretty easy, too. Left at 10pm, watched a highly-censored, “plane appropriate” (???) version of It’s Something About Mary, and by the time we woke up we had a cup of freshly-brewed cup of airplane coffee sitting in front of us anxiously awaiting our touch down to Sao Paulo.

After taking Operations Strategy and studying business cases such as Southwest Airlines and Baltimore Airport, I do have a newfound respect for airports and airlines. And fortunately for me, I didn’t experience nearly the same “operational challenges” that some members of the Serbia group did. I did have one small blip in my schedule, where for some reason Alex, the student I am traveling with, and I got put on different connecting flights (he had a ticket that went straight through to Rio, whereas I had a ticket on a different, partner airline of United accompanied by a 4.5 hour layover). But we were able to resolve the issue with minimal effort, and lucky for me the resolution didn’t even come with a lost bag!

The extremely sophisticated luggage belt at the Rio airport

I was, however, able to observe first-hand some of the challenges that Rio will face in prepping for the upcoming World Cup in 2014 and Olympic Games in 2016. One of the primary concerns that the IOC had when selecting a host city for the 2016 Games (the final round of bidding came down to Rio and our very own Chicago, IL) was if Rio would be able to get the necessary infrastructure in place required to host the number of tourists the Games typically attract. Of most concern was their airport and ground transportation system, both of which are not even close to being suited to support the expected uptick in foot traffic 2014 and 2016 will bring. For example, during our layover in Sao Paulo, we noticed that, instead of announcing flights and changes on the loudspeaker like they do at most US airports, there was a guy walking through the airport to each terminal announcing that the flight to Buenos Aires was about to depart (at least I think that’s what he was saying). Rio definitely has a lot of work cut out for them over the next few years.  Additionally, although Rio is drastically improving its image, one of the first things you see as you drive away from the International Airport is miles of run down favelas (“shanty towns” in Brazil) before you actually arrive at the main road that runs alongside the beaches.  This is the first impression travelers will have upon arriving in Brazil, so this is another issue the city will have to address prior to the Games.   

But enough about boring airplanes and airports… because Rio is nothing short of amazing! As soon as we picked up our luggage, we caught a bus toward Ipanema (the beach we are staying at) – Alex and I opted for the 9R bus ride as opposed to the 100R cab ride, which I was initially a bit nervous about, but it was fine. People in Rio are actually shockingly friendly, so we had a lot of help in getting to our final destination. We arrived at our hotel, The Ipanema Plaza, safe and sound, grabbed a quick bit to eat at a nearby restaurant (yes, I did try a bit of Ben and Alex’s steak, although I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it), then hit the beach! The weather is gorgeous (almost as much as the Brazilian men ;) ) and the water was incredibly warm. After the beach I went on a long run, and now I’m just relaxing in our room before we head off to dinner. Apparently 9pm is “dining early.” Man, this schedule might take some getting used to…

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OK, well, it’s more like “leavin’ on a Boeing 777,” but you get the idea.  I’ve got my bags packed, and I’m ready to head out to Rio de Janeiro!  Of course, due to recent events I had expected the airport to be an absolute zoo, so I decided I should probably arrive at least 3 hours early (plus, you can never know what to expect with DC/Arlington rush hour traffic!)  And then when I heard nightmare stories of a classmate’s flight to Serbia getting cancelled yesterday last-minute, I decided I’d better add an extra hour cushion to my arrival time.  So, it is now officially 7:00pm, and I’m sitting here quietly at gate C4, anxiously awaiting my 10:13pm flight.  (Short story, the airport was a breeze!)  But it’s cool; I brought along 3 good books, including one that Professor Lucea lent me about doing business in Latin America, several mags, and of course my father would never forgive me if I didn’t give him one last goodbye phone call.

Quickly reflecting on the past 7 weeks in our International Residency course, led by Dr. Lisa Delpy-Neirotti, we all learned a lot about Brazil, The Olympics, and the specific consulting project my group has been working on (Spectator Experience).  The other day we had Frank Craig Hill, the Founder and former President of Octagon (formerly Advantage), attend our class and speak to us about Olympic sponsorship and activation, which was great.  We’re all now well-prepared to encounter the meetings, tours, presentations, and of course, fun, that is about to come our way.

Sorry to cut this blog post short, but a few classmates just arrived and I think the “Vino Volo Wine Room” across from gate C3 is calling our names.  Next stop, Brazil!  (Well, San Paulo then Brail).


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It is no secret that Brazil’s economy is rapidly growing.  With an annual GDP growth of more than 5% the past several years (7.5% in 2010), Brazil is one of the fastest-growing major economies, and in recent years, Brazil has become the poster child for emerging market economic reorg.  Well, I think it’s safe to say that Brazil has finally emerged.

A few weeks ago, Counselor Philip Fox-Drummond Gough, Head of Trade Promotion Investment of the Embassy of Brazil, came and spoke to our class about the economic situation in Brazil.  It was interesting to learn more about Brazil’s economic growth from his perspective, and to connect these lessons to our specific projects.

Among topics he discussed, Counselor Philip Fox-Drummond Gough attributed Brazil’s extreme economic growth primarily to three distinct causes: macroeconomic factors, social policy, and exogenous factors.  In ’93, Brazil saw inflation rates of about 2,000%, but an economic plan that was implemented the same year helped to stabilize that rate, and now officials are shooting for 4.5%. 

In the past, Brazil was known as a country possessing one of the greatest gaps between the rich and poor, with a Gini Index of 60.7 in 1998 (4th in the world).  As a result, although Brazil boasted a population of 190 million, only a small percentage could actually reasonably affect the economy.  In recent years, however, that gap has been closing as 13 million people entered the middle class in the past 8 years.  Brazil is now placed as 10th on the Gini scale, with a score of 56.7 – still a wide gap, but the country is making great strides.

Having a solid understanding of Brazil’s economic history and current situation is particularly relevant to the project we are working on – making recommendations on how to enhance the spectator experience (including how tickets are distributed) during the Olympic Games.  One of the interesting things we found is that less than half of Brazil’s population has a credit card, and those who do really don’t even use it that often, only charging an averaging of about $70 per month.  Part of this could be due to interest rates that exceed 200%, but much of it is also likely due to the fact that Brazil just isn’t a plastic economy quite yet.  Though the percentage of Brazilian’s who possess credit cards is steadily growing and given more than half of Olympic spectators are from the host country, this will likely impact the way in which tickets for the Olympic Games are distributed (in the past, everything has been done purely online).  This also presents a huge opportunity for one of the Olympics’ primary sponsors – Visa – and their golden objective during their sponsorship window will most surely be to ensure that every single Brazilian holds a Visa card after 2016.  But, of course, the bottom line for Brazil will be to help improve their economy, infrastructure and social situation, and they are well on their way to doing so. 


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