Lessons From Rio 2016: Spirit, Diversity and Improvisation
Organising and presenting the Olympic and Paralympic Games has provided Brazil, especially those of us in the advertising world, with a unique opportunity. In the midst of our country’s worst economic, political, and ethical crisis in history, we were challenged to showcase our vibrant, diverse, joyful culture on the world stage.
Very much like the athletes competing, we, as a nation have had epic, dramatic stories around the planning of our games. We have learned much from our Olympics experience and think the world can learn lessons from us.
Spirit (or Atrevimento)
There’s a Portuguese word—atrevimento—it means having courage and bravery in the face of a big challenge. It sums up the spirit and grit that allowed Brazil to pull off the games in the face of what many thought were impossible odds.
The world can learn a lot from this spirit of atrevimento.
While some thought that the Rio Games might not come together, we knew we would never, could never, let that happen. The opportunity to showcase our country’s true spirit was too important for our future. Succeed, and we could help improve our country’s future. Fail, and we could make it more dire. The Olympics and Paralympic games will not offset our recession. But in the long run, the games will help boost the long-term reputation of our country, driving tourism and commercial investments. We were able to show that, despite our woes, we are counter to so much of what is happening around the world.
In the marketing world, our Nissan client embraced the spirit of atrevimento in Rio, taking on the dominant global sponsors and automotive brands with its Brazilian sponsorship of the games. Nissan ends the games with a full percentage point increase to 3.5% in its Brazil market share since the start of the Games; 2.4 billion impressions on Twitter for Nissan Olympic-specific hashtags (source: Sysomos); number 1 in impressions in the automotive category across branded social platforms during the Olympics. Nissan’s #QuemSeAtreve hashtag (#WhoDares in English) has become the third best performing brand hashtag. The result is even more impressive given Nissan is a local Brazil sponsor.
A rich, ethnic diversity runs deep in our culture. You see it every day with black, white, Indian, American, Asian and European people together on the streets. About 53% of the country’s population is mixed race or black. We mix everything in our culture—our people, music, dance food and drink. And because of our diversity, not in spite of it, we have a culture that people are drawn to, that spurs creativity. We have great crowds operating in a peaceful, orderly, harmonious manner every day— not just during the Olympics, but every day on the beaches and in our cities.
Our diversity provides a very strong foundation for determination and drive. We have seen this in our athletes and in the enduring soul of our favelas. We are so proud of our 475 athletes, who represent every corner of Brazil and our diverse culture, and the 19 medals that they have won. Every medal won is a testament to overcoming big difficulties. And that result comes from diverse groups of people.
Staging the games was a spectacular $12 billion undertaking, a big challenge for any nation, and especially for Brazil. It may not be the way other countries organise themselves but, for us, improvisation is part of our culture and it is often the way we innovate. We are a creative nation—sometimes still disorganised in many areas as an emerging economy— and we often improvise to overcome challenges.
The production of our Opening Ceremony is an example of how we improvise. We told the gritty story of our city in what some called the 'analogue' opening ceremony. Our budget was a fraction of the shows presented in London in 2012 ($41.5 million) and in Beijing ($100 million). We thought it was important that, in light of our economic situation, we should not be wasteful with our budget. So, with the help of many compelling stories, a good lighting show, creativity and our supermodel Gisele, we opened the games with entertainment, heart and authenticity.
We can all learn from this lesson. It is how we approach our work. Sometimes constraints and obstacles give birth to the best ideas. It’s why Brazil is one of the world’s best markets for advertising and creativity.
In Brazil, we might leave things for the last minute and sometimes don’t get around to doing what we should when we should. But in true Brazilian spirit, we have demonstrated that we know how to and can organise a big event with our own special way of doing things.
We have proved to the world that yes, we can do it. And we did it our way.