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Brazzil - Marketing - March 2004

Brazil: A TV Feud of Two Beers

Zeca Pagodinho, one of Brazil's most popular singers, is in the
middle of a noisy controversy between two Brazilian beer
manufacturers. Last year he made a hugely successful TV spot
for Nova Schin urging viewers to "Experiment". Now he is on
television singing the praises of Brahma, the competition.

Tom Phillips

A Rio samba singer—featured in a massive advertising drive for one Brazilian lager last year—stirred up a brew between rival beer manufacturers this week, defecting to another brand on national television.

A week after Belgian brewers Interbrew paid US$ 11.5 billion for Brazil's Ambev—creating the world's biggest beer maker—a war of words has broken out between directors of Brahma, now controlled by the Europeans, and Schincariol, another Brazilian brewery.

The Brazilian musician, Zeca Pagodinho, made a hugely successful advert for Nova Schin last year urging viewers to: "Experiment". The company's share of the market rose from 10 to 15 per cent in the wake of the ad.

Yet on Friday he appeared on prime-time television singing the praises of Brahma—a beer he is widely known to prefer.

"I tried other flavours, I know," he sings in the commercial. "But I can't leave my love, I came back." ("Fui provar outro sabor, eu sei. Mas não largo meu amor, voltei.")

Schincariol reacted furiously. According to the São Paulo firm, Pagodinho's contract with them does not run out until September. They have referred the case to the Board of Advertising Self-Regulation (CONAR—Conselho de Auto-Regulamentação Publicitária).

In response the company also placed a full-page advert in several Sunday newspapers entitled: "Suggestions of the Brazilian Nova Schin for the Belgian Brahma."

Amongst their suggestions was that their rivals try "building new factories in Brazil, creating jobs for Brazilians, growth in Brazilian cities, and which crucially, produce Brazilian beer."

Schincariol's advertising chief, Eduardo Fischer, said: "We are going to respond in the way we know best: with an even more innovative commercial."

Pagodinho, who has sold an estimated 3.5 million records in the last six years (not to mention the number of pirate CDs) and is one of the country's most popular singers, shrugged off the controversy.

"I'm too old to be hiding the beer I drink," he said yesterday. "I couldn't pretend anymore. Everybody knows that I drink Brahma." He denied any contradiction in making the two commercials. "I said 'Try it'. I didn't tell anybody to drink it all the time. Beer is like cigarettes. Everyone is addicted to a particular brand."

Monday, March 15, one Rio tabloid revealed that Pagodinho kept a secret stash of Brahma beer at his farm in Xerém, whilst simultaneously promoting Nova Schin.

"This guy could switch women or even religion, but his football club and beer are sacred," joked one drinking partner.

Brazil's President, Luiz Inácio da Silva, has yet to publicly express his opinion. But, Lula is known to be a fan of Pagodinho's music. Last Christmas he received a DVD of the sambista's new MTV Unplugged show, from his daughter.

Tom Phillips is a British journalist living in Rio de Janeiro. He writes for a variety of publications on politics and current affairs, as well as various aspects of the cultura brasileira. Tom can be reached on tominrio@yahoo.co.uk

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