Despite Brazil's economic slowdown and troubling street protests, agencies are still entering the country in anticipation of a marketing bonanza from the Brazil-hosted World Cup next year and the Olympic Games in 2016.
Dentsu's 360i is opening in Sao Paulo this week, following the agency's usual pattern of partnering with a sibling Dentsu digital shop to start a small operation to handle their U.S.-based international clients.
In Brazil, 360i will work with Lov, which became 100% Dentsu-owned last year. Lov's chief operating officer, Andre Franca, will be managing director of the small 360i unit located at the Lov office.
"We identify a market, talk to our clients, and find a partner and work with them on a couple assignments, then launch," said Bryan Wiener, chairman and ceo of 360i. "We have a lot of demand from existing clients who will be involved in the World Cup and the Olympics."
Marketers, locked into multi-year sponsorship commitments, are generally proceeding with their plans for those events, but it's unclear to what extent the social unrest that exploded in June during the Confederations Cup, a dry run always held a year before the World Cup, will return.
"That's absolutely a wild card, but I think a lot of marketers have jumped in with two feet," Mr. Weiner said.
The agency started its international expansion by opening earlier this year in London and Toronto.
In Brazil, the agency has been working with 360i client Mondelez on developing a Latin America community on Facebook for cracker brand Club Social.
Other agencies continue to double down on Brazil. Last month Publicis Groupe bought a majority stake in Espalhe, an innovative digital and social media marketing agency whose founders Gustavo Fortes, Cleber Martins and Roberta Paixão were named to Ad Age's annual Creativity 50 last year. The three will remain in charge of the management team as Espalhe joins Publicis' MSL Group and is renamed MSL Espalhe.
Although most international agencies have a Brazil presence, there are still latecomers. After international digital agency Profero bought a majority stake in U.S. Hispanic shop Vox Collective last year, the Hispanic agency's president, Roberto Ramos, took charge of both the Hispanic and Latin American efforts for Profero, including a Brazil entry.
"Regarding Brazil, our goal is to have a presence there by Q2 2014," Mr. Ramos said in an email. "We're looking at various options, including partnering with a strong local independent agency. In the meantime our Brazil focus has been on representing Brazil clients outside the U.S."
And in a reverse migration, WPP-owned digital shop Fbiz relocated a partner, Marcelo Castelo, to Miami earlier this year and has just opened a San Francisco office. From Miami, Mr. Castelo can take advantage of Brazil's lead in digital and mobile marketing to work with clients elsewhere in Latin America. Eventually, Fbiz hopes to use its vantage point from Miami to also work in the U.S. Hispanic market.
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