Global viewpoint from São Paulo
A view from Fernando Musa

Global viewpoint from São Paulo

Jabuticaba: a little black fruit you’ll only find in Brazil. Jabuticaba syndrome: a typical illness you will also only find in Brazil. It’s a condition that compels people to get too easily settled. You will find that sufferers often use the excuse that "It’s different here" to explain why they keep doing the same things; they keep looking inward and casting all international references or methods out of the equation. This is especially true when it comes to the advertising industry.

Fortunately, with recent developments such as the 1989 democracy process, the strong economy that began with Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s government in 1994, the social inclusion of the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s government from 2003 and the arrival of international events such as the World Cup and the Olympics, we seem to be finding different ways to treat it – starting with the spreading of the belief that we can play the global game.

For a long time, we Brazilians have locked ourselves inside our own world and worked only to recreate and overcome what was going on inside the country. The idea now is to embrace the no-boundary philosophy and this is starting to happen.

Due to the size of the Brazilian market, it cannot be just a follower; it has to take on the position of a key player. That means importing and exporting talent, to have the big players working here (almost every major client and agency has offices in São Paulo, and some of our own companies are in that list) and to understand that digital platforms and media consumption are a hard-rock reality. Globo (our main TV network and media platform) is huge, Facebook is huge, Twitter is huge, Google is huge – and all of them work worldwide.

The challenge we face is that our country still lacks the basic structures to be a strong competitor

The challenge we face is that, even though our industry is finally prepared to go head-to-head with the main international players, our country still lacks the basic structures to become a truly strong competitor. Corruption, violence, poor education and infrastructure and huge social gaps are some of the critical obstacles blocking our progress.

On one hand, technology is changing our relationship with the world and making everything easier, faster and stronger. However, on the other hand, we are still struggling with the basics. Our consumers are stuck in this paradox and that is our main difficulty. We may have some of the best examples of the best, yet we still face the worst conditions of the worst.

Those who understand this conflict know how to play our game. Those who can operate while bearing this in mind will find a fertile territory for creativity, innovation and having fun – and will taste the flavour of the Jabuticaba juice rather than suffer from its syndrome.

Fernando Musa is the chief executive at Ogilvy & Mather Brazil