Brahma Invites Jennifer Lopez to Carnival in Rio

Beer Marketer Invents Word, 'Sapucar,' to Spur Revelers

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As Brazilians get ready to celebrate Carnival this weekend, a new word that demonstrates how fast advertising enters popular culture in this country has danced into their vocabulary. It's "sapucar," which Brazilians interpret and are using to mean "have lots of fun at Carnival."

Jennifer Lopez catches the beat in Brahma spot.
Jennifer Lopez catches the beat in Brahma spot.

The ease with which the word has slipped into the lexicon is partly because Rio de Janeiro's famous samba-school parade takes place in the Sambodromo, which is on Av. Marques de Sapucai. It doesn't hurt that Jennifer Lopez is saying it, too.

Brahma beer's agencies invented the word a few weeks ago as part of the Anheuser-Busch InBev brand's carnival platform, which includes a lavish celebrity-filled box at the parade. In a TV spot airing nationwide, JLo is thrilled to be invited by Brahma to "sapucar" in Rio.

In the spot, filmed in Los Angeles, Ms. Lopez is at home tossing aside invitations from Britain's royal family and other dignataries. She pounces on a box containing a bright-red Brahma T-shirt and yells "I was invited!" She immediately starts taking samba lessons and learning Portuguese. Cut to Brazil, where Zeca Pagadinho, a well-known samba songwriter and Carnival personality, is at the beach drinking Brahma surrounded by people already in a Carnival mood. He calls Ms. Lopez to see if she's coming to join them in Brahma's box. "I'm in, Pagadinho!" she shouts. Much singing and dancing ensues.

In another Brahma spot, Ms. Lopez makes a cameo appearance, asking "What is "sapucar?" Most of the ad answers that question with samba scenes from past Carnivals. At the end, Ms. Lopez says, "My dream is to 'sapucar' in Brazil."

"This word didn't exist," said Nizan Guanaes, chairman of Grupo ABC, whose agency Africa made the Jennifer Lopez ads. Banco de Eventos created the other work, including a website and Brahma's three-floor VIP box, which almost 1,000 people will squeeze into to watch the samba-school parade go by this weekend. Other brands will be in the box as well, including L'Oreal makeup artists and Unilever's Kibon ice cream.

"Sapucar" is to enjoy your Carnival, anywhere," Mr. Guanaes explained. He will split his Carnival between his native Salvador de Bahia and Rio, where he'll be in the VIP box along with Ms. Lopez.

Not everyone is heading to Rio. It has JLo, but Sao Paulo has Roberto Justus, CEO of WPP Group's Y&R Brazil and Newcomm Group, and former TV personality. Mr. Justus had the Donald Trump role in the Brazilian version of "The Apprentice" and awarded winners jobs at WPP agencies.

Every samba school has a theme, with a related song performed during the group's hour-long parade march. This year, the theme of Sao Paulo samba school Rosas de Ouro is "The Kingdom of Justus," a play on Mr. Justus' name and the Portuguese word for "fair." (One of Mr. Justus' clients, Procter & Gamble's Pantene brand, is sponsoring Rosas de Ouro.)

Another agency, Neogama BBH, is participating in Sao Paulo's street carnival. It formed a group, Carnazumbi AntiTobaco, to parade on Sunday afternoon costumed as the living dead. The theme is "Cigarette zombies aren't immortal."

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