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Coca-Cola Is Betting on Brazil’s Thirst

Brian Smith, president of Coca-Cola of Brazil with the Brazilian line of products

Brian Smith, president of Coca-Cola of Brazil with the Brazilian line of productsWhen the political crisis in Brazil first gave signs that it would be around a while, many multinational corporations reacted by holding on to new investments. Then Coca-Cola did just the opposite and announced the buying of Sucos Mais, a bottled juice company. Coke is investing US$ 50 million on top of the US$ 270 million already planned for spending in 2004.

Apparently Coca-Cola believes that crisis is but an opportunity for growth, just like the Chinese do. And after Coca-Cola’s announcement, many other companies decided to change strategies and make even bigger investments than planned.

Brian Smith, Coca-Cola’s President in Brazil, told the Brazilian press that he is not concerned with the political crisis, because these come and go and do not last more than a year.

Smith reminded that Coca-Cola has been in Brazil for 63 years and the company would not let it go of a good business opportunity because of politics. And he went on to say that when Mexico had a crisis in 1995, Coca-Cola multiplied the investments and by the time the crisis was over they had 5% more in the market.

If there are good opportunities, crisis or not, one has to go and get them, he told reporters in Brazil. Coca-Cola is buying 82% of the juice company and 41% of the total capital.

In Brazil for over half a century, Coca-Cola has seen it all, from the suicide of a President, to another’s resignation and a military coup afterwards, not forgetting an impeachment.

But what really counts for Coca-Cola, is how much they sell. Brazil was number two in Coke drinking growth in the world. and it is also the third biggest market for Coca-Cola, losing only for the United States and Mexico.

Crisis come and goes and in the last few years, soft drinks market doubled in size. Brazilians used to drink 6 billion liters of soda pops a year and today this number doubled to 12 billion liters. After this crisis, which will also pass, Brazil will still be an excellent market for the industry.

The Brazilian Hero

Tetê Leal, the Coordinator of Coopa-Roca, the coop for seamstresses of Rocinha, the big favela in Rio, was chosen by the Skoll Foundation, to be featured in the new series “The new heroes,” a show about the life of social activists throughout the world.

The show will be presented by Robert Redford and was produced for PBS. The new series tells 12 dramatic stories of those who bring innovative, empowering solutions to major social problems around the world.

Coopa-Roca’s mission is to provide flexible employment opportunities to women from low income families of Rocinha, particularly single mothers to work from home. 

Major founding was provided by the Skoll Foundation, with additional support from Calvert and the flora Family Foundation. Coopa-Roca is an offshoot from a recycling project involving local children. The first group of women produced craft work from textile remnants using traditional Brazilian techniques.

Sorry, But I Have a Book Call…

Paulo Coelho, one of the best selling authors in the world has his eye on mobile phones. Not to call his friends, but to show his books.

The new possibilities of cell phones are seen by many as million-dollar promotion tools.

It was actually HarperCollins Publishers who had the idea, not Paulo Coelho himself, he just said yes, why not. The publishing company picked three best selling authors for a kick off promotion in Australia.

Anyone with a trip booked to Sidney, will be able to read Coelho’s new book Zahir over the phone. The same book that was banished from Iran. Meanwhile, Coelho sells millions more with all the buzz around the book and he does not complain.

The phone idea is leaving the book industry so excited that many are already ordering books especially written for reading on cell phones.

Whatever this means… would it be a ten sentence long page, a one page long chapter? One wonders what these books will be like. And the question that comes to mind is, would Fernando Pessoa, Shakespeare, Guimarães Rosa, Sylvia Plath, Virginia Wolf, Machado de Assis, Robertson Davies, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Victor Hugo, Walt Whitman, to only mention a few, write for the telephone? Maybe this is too conservative a feeling, but it does feel weird to read books on a cell phone, does it not?

On the music level, Brazilian rock singer/composer Lulu Santos is launching his new song “Pop Star” on a cell phone. That makes a lot more sense. By the time his CD reaches stores in September, millions will have heard the song between chitchat. But books?  It’s just the sign of times. They are a-changing…

Out Damned Guns, Out I Say…

Gone are the days when Charlton Heston became the world’s hero playing roles like Ben-Hur. The actor, now a senior citizen, decided to dedicate the rest of his life defending armed citizens.

Heston, who is the president of the NRA (National Rifle Association) in the U.S., and became a big lobbyist for the bellic industry, is going to Brazil to lead a campaign pro-guns before the plebiscite vote. Again here, sign of the times. This time, sad times.

Meanwhile, Varig Airlines is totally engaged in a meritorious campaign against guns, despite all the threats the air company has been getting since it made its position public. Too much money involved, which, for many, is more important than human lives.

More

* Architect Oscar Niemeyer was invited by Brazilian Ambassador in Cuba, Tilden Santiago, to visit Havana and take a look at the site where the new Brazilian Embassy will be built. The building was designed by Niemeyer, who declined the invitation. The old architect refuses to travel by air nowadays…

* Seu Jorge, the Brazilian singer from the film City of God is not a phenomenon only in Europe. In the U.S. he had a role in Hollywood acting with stars like Bill Murray and Angelica Houston and directed by Wes Anderson.

* Chico Buarque has three new DVDs in the market in Brazil, France and Italy. They are À Flor da Pele, Meu Caro Amigo and Vai Passar. Rich with Chico’s best songs, interviews and photos. Interviews for each DVD were done in different cities. À Flor da Pele was done in Paris, Meu Caro Amigo, in Rio, and Vai Passar, in Rome.

* Chico sings with other great people. With Caetano Veloso, they do songs they have written from the female viewpoint, like “Tatuagem” (by Chico and sung by Caetano), “Esse Cara” (by Caetano and sung by Chico). You cannot not have it!

* Carmen, a book by Ruy Castro about the life of Carmen Miranda, will be out in October. In November, the Museum of Modern Art in Rio will feature the exhibit “Carmen Miranda,” as a tribute to the singer-actress on the 50th anniversary of her death.

* Ruy Castro interviewed several people who knew Carmen before she left for the United States and retraces the artist’s life, clarifying some tales about her. Carmen was born in Portugal, raised in Brazil and made world famous in Hollywood and New York. The writer admits that after years researching, thinking and writing about Carmen full time, he has fallen completely in love with both, the artist and the woman.

* Varig Airlines will no longer have Executive class when flying inside Brazil.

* Telemundo, the Spanish version of NBC, is quietly approaching Brazilian soap opera experts. The idea is to import some of our screenwriters, directors and producers to help improve the quality of their work in the U.S. of A.

* Google just closed a huge deal with the Brazilian Internet market, buying Akwan, which also does specific search. The deal is part of Google’s plan to invest US$ 25 million dollars in Brazil in 4 years.

* Micayork was an event planned to happen on August 13. But it had to be postponed to October because one of its honor guests, Carina Bedushi, Miss Brazil, was not granted a visa to fly to the U.S. Now misses, those cute creatures who all pray for peace in the world are a threat too? Will she get a visa? Will she not? With the system of no criteria in American consulates, we might just need daisies…

Clara Angelica Porto is a Brazilian bilingual journalist living in New York. She went to school in Brazil and at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. Clara is presently working as the English writer for The Brasilians, a monthly newspaper in Manhattan. Comments welcome at clara.angelica@gmail.com.

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