Just a couple of weeks after long-time vegetarian singer Roberto Carlos and meat manufacturer Friboi whipped up a bit of a storm with their “I Return” advert, it is now international football superstar Neymar and soft drinks company Guarana’s turn.
Although in the UK for example it is possible to buy some forms of Guarana natural juice in health food shops, it is still very uncommon. Guarana could be seen as a slightly healthier alternative to Coke and other carbonated sugar drinks, and I for one certainly enjoy it a lot (but not too much, since at the end of the day, it does have a fair bit of sugar in it. I also never drink anything ‘diet’ by the way).
Perhaps not quite as controversial, the advert has generated some polarising reactions from Brazilians, some of who love it and some of who are embarrassed, thinking that it could well be offensive to foreigners. Other Brazilians have not liked the way it may stereotype Brazilians as both fun loving and unreliable.
The advert was created by agency DM9DDB, and in it we see a Dutch, French and American ask for a Guarana by reading Portuguese from a napkin. These people are actually not asking for a Guarana, but are saying silly things like ‘I am stupid’ and other nonsense.
The advert switches to Barcelona, where we see someone who (to me) looks like a younger Elijah Wood ask Neymar (in Portuguese) how to order a Guarana. Neymar writes down another silly thing for “Elijah” to say, including the Portuguese slang phrase “filhote de cruz credo”.
Probably channeling her inner Sheldon Cooper, Thalía de Miranda sensibly asked how if Wood was able to speak such good Portuguese, how come he needed to ask Neymar how to ask for a Guarana. A very good point indeed.
For me, on watching the advert, I was not outraged or offended, just a little disappointed in the fact that this advert could have been so much more. It surely was a lost opportunity, especially when Brazil has many challenges related to the hosting of the world cup. Neymar is a hero to millions, I am a fan, and I certainly loved to watch his scintillating play when he was at Santos. He also seems to have managed to escape the many traps of being a young man with such vast wealth, and I had always thought that he must have some good and wise people behind him, not only advising him in business, but also mentoring him through life.
If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you will know that I do not find negative comments and criticism particularly constructive. The reason I am writing this article is that both brands and advertising are a huge part of our lives, and can certainly be a force for good and conscientious consumption. I have been discovering many amazing leaders and companies here in Brazil which are very little known outside of the country, for example DPaschoal (See my article for example Dialogue on Leadership: Luís Norberto Pascoal, President of DPaschoal).
So rather than criticise, I thought it would be better to imagine how Guarana could develop their advertising. To stimulate my own creativity, I imagined which adverts in my life had moved me the most. The number one advert that to this day is etched in my mind is a mid-80s advert for Pepe Jeans. I remember seeing this advert for the first time at the cinema, and it was around three or four minutes long I am sure.
The advert begins with the gorgeously oscillating guitar riff from The Smiths’ ‘How Soon is Now?’ and we see a lad walking down a street at night, as we do a lass. The advert cuts back and forth as we also witness an intense Native American rain dance, and as the guitar builds up to its crescendo, down pours the rain, bringing the young couple together for the first time seeking shelter at a bus stop. Unfortunately I could only find this television-length 30 second clip, but it will give you a great idea nonetheless.
As the person who loaded the advert up onto Youtube observes, it is possibly the coolest advert ever.
The next advert comes from the 90s, and is for Sony car stereos, featuring a soundtrack from one of my favourite indie bands The Inspiral Carpets.
At the time I was totally the target market for this advert, and for me very few adverts have captured such explosively raw uplifting emotion. I love the way the chap flys around, and watching the film you, well, I for one really feel the sensation in my stomach.
The final advert is much more recent, and comes from Jonny Walker who commissioned this for Brazil. Brazilians have a legend that inside the iconic Sugar Loaf mountain, and in the advert we see the giant waking, itself a metaphor for the country. As Alexandre Gama, Chief Creative Officer at Neogama BBH, the agency who made the advert, said “Keep walking Brazil is more than a celebration. It is a call and an incentive for the country to keep focused in it’s path to progress” (source).
I went to Campinas by bus yesterday, and on the way home I imagined any number of amazing adverts which could have been, given the iconic talent available. I know also that quite a few people in Brazil are a little fed up with the way in which football, samba and the beach dominate popular worldwide consciousness so much, but D9 are a São Paulo company and it is up to the many talented agencies here in Brazil to help shift worldwide perceptions. Can you yourself imagine what might have been? I certainly can.
So next time you need an advert with Neymar Guarana, call me. We can do something really special.
Neymar could write a message on a napkin, and then we travel all around Brazil, people passing the message on, with we the viewers never quite knowing what is written.
We will see all the amazing parts of Brazil that other adverts do not show, we can show the Amazon from where the guarana plant comes from and how it needs to be protected as well as nurtured, we can include some absolutely banging new music from the eclectic music scenes which are flourishing here (it’s not all “funk” you know) and we will make this a transmedia campaign, as Brazilians and the world tell their stories on napkins.
We will share our stories, play games, it will be amazing. You know where I am. Call me