The Brazilian Spectator

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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