This month founder Chris Talbot had the chance to visit Brazil and meet with various government and political organizations. Below he shares some notes from the trip:
by Chris Talbot
Tip O’Neill said all politics is local. Anyone who abides by that maxim should consider political work in Brazil and make the necessary voyage to the field: what an amazing country. There is great enthusiasm springing from the concrete jungle of São Paulo and optimism on the beach in Rio (host of the 2016 Olympic Games). The wonderful lifestyle and culture combined with an ambitious economic project makes Brazil an interesting global destination on many levels, and the political opportunities are growing. Processes, funding, opacity, and a web of arcane (often vague) media laws make the political and government relations world a veritable Wild West in comparison to the US. Some highlights:
- Digital is becoming a basic part of campaigning in Brazil, though there is a wide range of quality and investment.
- Mobile is huge: there are more mobile numbers in Brazil than there are people. This is a bit misleading though, in that most numbers are prepaid, and many individuals have multiple phones. Our maid in São Paulo had two phones!
- Facebook has won: it recently passed Orkut in usership and will be the dominant social network in Brazil going forward. The catch phrase in Ipanema? “Face-y-book me!”
- In general Brazilian politics and campaigns are laden with corruption and behind-the-scenes dealings.
- Campaigns cost money. Brazilian political campaigns and parties spend aggressively to win, hiring many staff and consultants. There are no “volunteers” in these campaigns, everyone gets paid.
- Brazilian laws on media make it literally impossible for campaigns to invest in online advertising (the same is true for certain Brazilian public sector promotional campaigns that the government runs). Advertising in traditional media outlets is extensive and required.
There are some very smart digital consultants on the ground in São Paulo and Brasília… they are making strides to bring Brazil into the 21st century of political marketing, but there’s a long way to go.