Global highlight: Brazil's Ethos Institute's 'Corruption Inc.'

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[RIO DE JANEIRO] In Brazil, corruption is widespread and often regarded as inevitable. Now, a local group called the Ethos Institute has gotten 300 Brazilian companies to sign an anti-corruption pact and is dramatizing the fight to stamp out wrongdoing with an ad campaign and the tagline "Either Brazil ends corruption, or corruption will end Brazil." The group estimates that corruption costs Brazil $180 billion every year.

The ad campaign broke in mid-January with an imaginary business called Corruption Inc., a symbol of corruption that would top the list of the most profitable companies in Brazil if placed in a ranking. One ad pictures a shockingly underfunded hospital, where patients sleep on the floor under the beds of other patients because corruption drains public services and exacerbates the country's poverty.

A website (empresalimpa.org.br) contains a corruptometro or corruption meter. It consists of a clock and a calculator that compute how much money is wasted by corrupt practices during every second the user is on the site and how that loss deprives Brazilians. The money lost in 20 seconds, for example, could have built 19 affordable homes or one hospital. In case anyone wonders what constitutes corruption, the site defines 10 illicit practices such as money laundering, keeping two sets of books and offering or accepting a bribe.

The Ethos Institute turned to the Brazilian Association of Advertising Agencies for help, and Rio de Janeiro's Creative Club created the campaign.
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