After years of hearing Brazil referred to as a sleeping giant, Diageo's Johnnie Walker is appealing to the fast-growing market with a blockbuster spot recognizing Brazil as a colossus that has finally awakened. In "Rock Giant," the colossus emerges from Rio de Janeiro's scenic Sugar Loaf mountain landmark.
"We lived with the image of having a lot of potential but not really taking advantage of all the wonderful resources we had," said Alexandre Gama, president and chief creative officer of Neogama/BBH, the Sao Paulo office of Johnnie Walker's global agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty. "[People used to say] Brazil is the country of the future, and always will be. We don't accept that any more."
In the spot, which broke Friday evening on Facebook and on Brazilian TV on Sunday, the earth cracks and boulders fly as Rio residents watch a giant arise from the famous rock formation. He carefully sets down the cable car that runs along Sugar Loaf Mountain and stands tall. As he takes his first steps, the words "The giant is no longer asleep" appear in Portuguese, before the campaign's familiar "Keep Walking" global tagline, tweaked to read "Keep Walking, Brazil."
Mr. Gama said the campaign came about after David Gates, global category director for Diageo's whiskey brands, visited Brazil early last year and wanted to meet Mr. Gama. During their meeting in the hotel lobby, Mr. Gates, who was previously Diageo Asia's marketing director, said he felt the kind of momentum was happening in Brazil that he had witnessed earlier in China. He said that opened the possibility to create a campaign that would tap into this change in a very Brazilian way. Diageo is also experiencing Brazil's momentum first hand, as Johnnie Walker's fastest-growing market with a 30% annual increase in sales volume.
On his way to Rio's downtown airport one day to catch the shuttle back to Sao Paulo after a client meeting, Mr. Gama glimpsed Sugar Loaf Mountain, and the idea was born. He said it was important that the message about the sleeping giant awakening was delivered by a non-Brazilian entity like an international brand, so the tagline "Keep Walking, Brazil" spelled the country's name with a 'z' rather than using the Portuguese spelling, Brasil.
Mr. Gama said the spot had more than 187,000 views on YouTube by Sunday night. He helped the spot go viral by sending it to his friend Luciano Huck, a popular Brazilian TV host who has more than three million Twitter followers and tweeted about the spot. The agency also bought a full-page ad in the form of a false cover run by one of Sao Paulo's leading daily newspapers, Folha de Sao Paulo, with "Sugar Loaf Mountain was part of a giant" as the lead story.
The complex production employed 420 people.
"The challenge was how to make someone covered by birds, trees and rocks look powerful," he said. "That was the biggest problem."
The spot, directed by Gorgeous with post-production and composition of the giant by The Mill, required special software to be written enabling the trees to react to the movements of a giant more than a mile high.