Brazil's Street Protesters Draw on Fiat, Johnnie Walker Ads

Demonstrations Reference Sleeping Giant Spot and Automaker's Call to the Streets

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Advertising slogans used by Fiat and Johnnie Walker in Brazil have been incorporated into the street demonstrations in major cities in Brazil this week, reported Meio & Mensagem, Ad Age's editorial partner in Brazil.

The unrest began as a protest against a bus and subway fare hike (now rescinded), but has erupted into broader discontent against corrupt politicians, abysmal public services and the Brazilian government's lavish spending in preparation for hosting the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic games while areas like education and healthcare remain massively underfunded.

In Brazil, where advertising frequently becomes part of the popular culture, protesters were quick to pick up ad themes that fit their cause.

Fiat recently launched a campaign with the theme "Come to the street" ("Vem para a rua") to celebrate the Confederation Cup soccer championship taking place this month in Brazil, Meio & Mensagem's Beatriz Almodova Lorente reported.

That slogan has been picked up in demonstrators' signs and became a trending topic on Twitter with the hashtag #vemprarua. The commercial's catchy soundtrack, with phrases like "Come to the street, because the street is the biggest grandstand in Brazil" made an appealing call to action for protesters.

In a statement, Fiat told Meio & Mensagem the campaign created by Leo Burnett Tailor Made, Sao Paulo, was developed only to capture Brazilians' enthusiasm for soccer.

Protesters have also seized upon the tagline "The giant woke up" ("O gigante acordou") created by Neogama BBH for a Johnnie Walker campaign in Brazil. The phrase also became a trending topic on Twitter as #ogiganteacordou.

In the blockbuster Johnnie Walker TV commercial filmed in Rio de Janeiro in 2011, the famous Sugarloaf Mountain awakens and is revealed to be a sleeping giant, a metaphor for Brazil itself. The enormous stone figure emerges and walks toward the ocean. The spot, which ran widely in Brazil, ends with the phrase "The giant is no longer sleeping. Keep Walking, Brazil."

A popular video posted on Facebook in Brazil this week is a mashup of clips from the street protests and footage from the Johnnie Walker spot, with the Fiat "Come to the street" soundtrack. The video opens with the governor of Sao Paulo dismissing the street protests as a "small" movement, then cuts to a moment in the Johnnie Walker spot when massive boulders hurdle down the mountain before the awakened stone giant emerges. The protesters' video also adds a new twist at the end, with the words "Keep Fighting, Brazil."