GLOBAL VILLAGE

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Don't just sponsor the team ... buy the players. Brazilian marketers are joining together to buy Brazilian soccer stars back from European teams. Brahma beer and three other local marketers paid $4.5 million to bring soccer legend Romario de Souza Faria back to his home Brazilian team from Barcelona. In TV spots financed by citizens and companies in the bring-back-Romario movement, the player invites viewers to call a toll-free number and vote for what number he should wear on his new uniform.

Can we sell tickets? That's the bright idea of Munir Samji, Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising's joint European managing director, who is taking an entrepreneurial, if tongue-in-cheek, ap-proach to the agency's legal battle against former Chairman Maurice Saatchi. Mr. Munir saw a potential revenue stream in offering tickets for the court hearing in London this month to the highest bidders.

You've read the Saatchi stories, now attend the conference. Agency executives are rushing to sign up for The Lawyer magazine's March 22 seminar "The Saatchi Saga: Lessons to Be Learned," chaired by Ron Leagas, chairman of Leagas Shafron Group and a former Saatchi managing director.

A safe bet? Ladbroke's Paul Austin says the U.K. betting agency has taken "thousands of bets," totaling $46,800, on the outcome of British Airways' $135 million review. Maurice Saatchi's New Saatchi Agency has strengthened its lead and now has even odds; J. Walter Thompson is in second place, and Bartle Bogle Hegarty has come from behind to clinch joint third place with Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising at 4-to-1 odds.

It's the I-bahn. At a Brussels information superhighway meet this month, Ronald Beatson, director-general of the European Association of Advertising Agencies, dubbed it the info-bahn.

A new way to rock and roll. Volkswagen is inviting Latin Americans to drive like Mick Jagger, only younger. VW introduces its $15,000 "Gol Rolling Stones" car with Voodoo Lounge decals in Brazil and Argentina to celebrate the aging U.K. band's Buenos Aires tour. Average age of Argentinian Gol buyers: 25.

A new yogurt culture. Echoing Lancome's decision last year to drop Isabella Rossellini, 42, from ads (she joined the Lancaster cosmetics group this month), German yogurt marketer Miller this month replaces U.K. spokeswoman Joanna Lumley, 48, of U.K. sitcom "Absolutely Fabulous," with supermodel Naomi Campbell, 24.

Deputy Editor/International Laurel Wentz welcomes contributions for GlobalVillage. Correspondents contributing to this report: Mike Galetto in Buenos Aires and Claudia Penteado in SÌo Paulo.

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