In Brazil, Havaianas sings the crisis away

“For Brazilians, partying is synonymous with happiness; working is a euphemism for punishment.” This statement is the product of a set of theories developed by Roberto Da Matta, the renowned Brazilian anthropologist. The country is predisposed to turn even the gloomiest of situations into something resembling a party.

This might help explain why Brazil has been one of the most optimistic countries since the onset of the global financial crisis. A 17-country survey carried out by Ibope, in conjunction with the Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research, found that just 12 percent of Brazilians expect the situation to worsen versus 49 percent of all respondents.

Similarly, our latest AnxietyIndex survey (AnxietyIndex: A Cross-Market Look)  found that Brazilians registered a relatively low level of anxiety when compared with six other countries—66 percent said they were nervous or anxious, more than Australia (61 percent) but far lower than Japan (at 90 percent), Russia, the U.S., the U.K., Spain and Canada.

It’s against this backdrop that Brazilian flip-flop maker Havaianas has aired a commercial mocking the economic crisis. A “roda de samba” (an informal gathering of people playing samba songs, a popular event all over Brazil) is interrupted by an earnest woman who complains: “How can you possibly be laughing and having fun while there is a crisis going on in the world?” The stunned crowd falls silent, until someone lets out: “Talk about sadness!” This is immediately picked up by someone who breaks into a popular samba song that goes “Sadness, please go away!” The rest of the crowd follows along.

While this don’t-worry-be-happy approach wouldn’t click with many cultures, the commercial is a great example of how brands can connect with consumers by finding the humor, hope and optimism in most adversities.

2 Responses to “In Brazil, Havaianas sings the crisis away”

  • From the viewpoint of the common folk, and, as a brazilian, I have to say that, around here, advertisement commercials are all based sole in humour, jokes, word-puzzling and sayings. No news around this post. No creativity whatsoever. Samba is around every corner of every major brazilian city and the scene where someone alarmingly states something and gets a humorous/clever answer dissipating the grave atmosphere into laughter is nothing but common. I can’t see where this “Don’t worry be happy” stuff worths all the buzz. Respectfully.

  • Lois Saldana - New York

    While the humor is not “new” to someone familiar with Brazilian culture, as a norteamericana, I am struck by how assertive and bold the message is in the Havaianas spot. In the U.S., most advertising recession-related strives to achieve a “reassuring” tone rather than a humorous one as if to say that ‘yes, we understand that this is no laughing matter.’

    But perhaps it is and why not? Just because the TV news anchor is a Debbie Downer doesn’t mean you have to be one too. Life goes on.

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