Slogans from current marketing campaigns – from brands such as Fiat and Johnnie Walker – have been incorporated into the street demonstrations in major cities in Brazil.
Whilst the unrest originally began as a protest against public transport price rises, but blew up into a more broad-based social equality and anti-corruption protest leveraging FIFA’s Confederations Cup and highlighting discontent about lavish government World Cup spending.
Fiat’s recent ‘Come to the street’ (“Vem para a rua”) campaign was intended to celebrate the Confederation Cup, but the slogan was hijacked by demonstrators who carried signs wiuth the ad’s tagline (which even became a trending topic on Twitter with the hashtag #vemprarua).
The TV spot’s catchy soundtrack includes lines such as ‘Come to the street, because the street is the biggest grandstand in Brazil’ were used as chants and songs as protestors shouted ‘calls to action’ in streets across the country.
This adoption of the campaign’s creative into the consumer protests prompted a statement from from Fiat which said that the campaign, created by Leo Burnett Tailor Made (Sao Paulo), was originally developed only to capture Brazilians’ enthusiasm for soccer.
The subversion of ads has become so popular now that it even has its own term – ‘subvertising’. the tactic is proving increasingly popular amoung political, socila and eco activists worldwide.
Protesters also seized upon the tagline ‘The giant woke up’ (‘O gigante acordou’) from agency Neogama BBH’s latest Brazilian campaign for whiskey giant Johnnie Walker.
Again, just as was the case with the Fiat campaign, this ad tagline was taken up as a protest slogan and it too became a trending topic on Twitter as #ogiganteacordou.
The copy came from a blockbuster special effects movie-style TV commercial, filmed in Rio de Janeiro, which shows the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain awakenen – the rock is revealed to actually be a sleeping giant whioch gets up and walks away.
The spot is a metaphor for Brazil itself. The huge stone man erupts from the mountainside and strides off toward the sea.
The ad, which ran nationally across Brazilian TV, finishes with the phrase ‘The giant is no longer sleeping. Keep Walking, Brazil.’
Indeed, a popular consumer video posted on Facebook in Brazil includes a mashup of edits from the street protests, as well as screen footage from the Johnnie Walker spot along with the Fiat “Come to the street” soundtrack.
The consumer-created protest webfilm even finishes with a tagline twist on the Johnnie Walker strapline that reads: ‘Keep Fighting, Brazil.’
Brazil is a market where advertising often quickly becomes part of the popular culture (indeed, some Brazilian advertisers are actually celebrities in their homeland) and protesters were quick to pick up ad themes that fit their cause.
This serves as a warning for World Cup sponsors who must heed consumer sentiment to avoid backlash.