Brazil's new leader launches ad campaign against hunger

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[rio de janeiro, brazil] Brazil's new radical President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva is enlisting local media for an ambitious anti-hunger campaign, even while preparing a separate $40 million account to promote the federal government's policies and programs.

Estimating that 10 million Brazilian families don't have money to buy sufficient food, the government kicks off a massive ad campaign called Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) this month in print, TV, radio and Internet. The effort is coordinated by Brazilian advertising groups using space donated by media owners.

familiarity

The push for Fome Zero was created under the leadership of Duda Mendonca, the adman who masterminded the presidential campaign that ended with the former Brazilian labor leader taking office two months ago.

Sergio Amado, president of the Association of Brazilian Advertising Agencies and president of WPP Group's Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide in Brazil, said Mr. Mendonca was put in charge both because of his familiarity with the project and to avoid agencies squabbling over the business. "By involving him, we are avoiding the unnecessary lobbying of 250,000 ad agencies in the country that would like to be involved," Mr. Amado said.

Mr. Mendonca does not have an official role in the Lula government, but his frequent presence in Brasilia, the capital, prompts speculation that he will be involved in its advertising decisions. In an effort to keep a low profile, he refuses to do interviews.

Marketers who agree to participate in the Fome Zero program get a certificate and are entitled to use its colorful logo in their ads. The elaborate logo refashions Brazil's flag, a blue circle with the words "Order and Progress" on a yellow diamond over a green background. In Fome Zero's version, the blue circle is an empty plate with a knife, symbolizing an eaten meal, on a green-and-yellow tablecloth with the campaign's slogan: "The Brazil that eats helps the Brazil that goes hungry."

Ford Motor Co. has pledged to donate 200 kilos (440 pounds) of food for every truck it sells in Brazil. Nestle, following a meeting between President Lula and Nestle's CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, will invest $23 million this year in Fome Zero projects. Its commitment ranges from hiring people to work on nutrition programs for poor families to launching an ad campaign from Interpublic Group of Cos.' McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Sao Paulo, starring leading Brazilian actress Fernanda Montenegro that urges Brazilians to join the Fome Zero program.

Nestle will also give away 240 houses this year, raffling them off to consumers who buy its products and send in proof-of-purchase. Nestle did a similar home giveaway last year in the market for the first time, but this year is adding a Fome Zero component. The winner of each house will choose an organization that will receive food donations worth about $12,000.

$40 million

Luiz Gushiken, Brazil's new minister of communications and strategic planning, and a close friend of Brazil's new president who helped coordinate his campaign last year, will handle the separate agency review. The business, to promote policies and programs like Fome Zero directly to the Brazilian public, is estimated by ad-industry executives at about $40 million. The government spends an estimated $230 million on advertising and works with about 44 ad agencies including WPP Group's J. Walter Thompson and Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, Omnicom Group's DM9 DDB Publicidade and local agencies like DPZ. But its ad budgets are allocated to specific ministries and state-owned companies like the Petrobras oil company or the national bank, Banco do Brasil, rather than to the federal government.

The next step by the government, some agency executives predict, is likely to be a reshuffling under Mr. Gushiken of those existing government accounts to work with fewer ad agencies.

Brazil's ad industry had a bad year in 2002, and has gotten off to a slow start this year as marketers hold off on spending as they wait to see what impact a U.S. war with Iraq will have on other economies.

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