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August 2016

Alasdair Townsend & Patrick O'Neill from Brazilian PR agency, Sherlock Communications interview

A view from the games – PR Week interview

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PR Week recently ran this interview on us, asking our perspective on the Olympics from on the ground in Rio de Janeiro. You can read the original article here.

Sherlock’s adopted Brazilians soak up the atmosphere

Alasdair Townsend and Patrick O’Neill, the British pair running Anglo-Brazilian agency Sherlock Communications, have been enjoying swimming and fencing, and trying to ignore the doom-mongering.

Why have you gone to Rio?

Alasdair Townsend (pictured below at fencing competition): We actually have permanent bases in Rio and São Paulo so we have not had to come far. As a PR agency we specialise in helping international brands break into Brazil, bridging the cultural and commercial gap, and have a number of clients looking to capitalise on the Olympic opportunity.

Alasdair Townsend from Brazilian PR agency Sherlock Communications

Alasdair Townsend from Brazilian PR agency, Sherlock Communications

Given the build up to the Games, were you apprehensive about attending?

Patrick O’Neill: Absolutely not. We know Brazil and Rio de Janeiro and we knew the doom-mongering was exaggerated. There are lots of brands and companies smart enough to see through the negativity and realise it’s still extremely important to have a presence in the world’s sixth largest market.

Does it feel like the Brazilian authorities’ and Games organisers’ PR operation is running smoothly?

AT: After a largely ineffectual build-up, the opening ceremony was a game changer and the tone of coverage since has been largely positive. The main PR challenge now comes from the empty seats at some events, but that has less to do with the Brazilian authorities and more with the strict rules imposed by the IOC.

Which sponsor or other brands are shining through for you?

PO: While we like Samsung’s installations, none of the major sponsors have captured the cultural nuances and engaged audiences in the same way as Google. The stations are full of posters for Google Translate, translating Carioca colloquialisms into English.

What do you think will be your abiding memory of the trip?

PO: Our abiding memories will be being there to witness the incredible achievements of Michael Phelps [Patrick pictured below at pool], and particularly Rafaela Silva, along with the sheer feel-good factor evident among everyone we know.

Patrick O'Neill from Brazilian PR agency Sherlock Communications

Patrick O’Neill from Brazilian PR agency, Sherlock Communications

Rio 2016 opening

Was a staged robbery really part of the Olympic opening ceremony?

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While the 2014 World Cup featured many tasteless examples of opulence and sponsors’ champagne dos, the Olympics organisers seem to have learned some imporant lessons from FIFA. Executive producer Marco Balich has recently confirmed the Rio 2016 opening ceremony will break with the recent tradition of large-scale and expensive shows, featuring a low-emissions cauldron and an “analogue” experience.  With the country in recession and unemployment levels at 11%, it would simply be inappropriate for Brazil to spend the same amount as London and Sochi on its opening ceremony.

This sensitivity and humility should be seen as a positive. But the way it being covered is too often far from positive. And make no mistake, there are positive stories.

The Daily Mail recently ran an outraged and incredulous story reporting that the ceremony would will include model Giselle Bundchen being mugged. As readers of this blog will know, the foreign media are no strangers to negative sensationalism when it comes to Brazil and this story is but one more example.

Today it’s being widely reported that this staged robbery had been canned from the ceremony, but is that the full story?

Allegedly, the scene was not just of an attempted robbery but of a young black male being chased by police. The idea was clearly to challenge traditional stereotypes but, in the face of media backlash, it was deemed this was a step too far.

The reported comments of the organising committee have not necessarily helped matters, suggesting the scene was never actually part of the plan and that some elements in the rehearsal ‘were inserted just to confuse the public’.

But, in the face of largely toxic media cynicism, this was always going to be a losing battle.

Brazil is a hugely diverse country and it’s clear the ceremony is looking to celebrate that diversity in a highly positive manner. As well as some of the more internationally known Bossa Nova artists like Gilberto Gil e Caetano Veloso, the show is also going to feature ‘funkeiros’ (funk carioca, Brazil’s version of hip hop) and Lea T, the first transsexual artist to feature in an Olympic opening ceremony.

But you would have to look far and wide to find much coverage of the fact…

At some point, the negative perception of the games has become the accepted “reality” – in English at any rate.

Here on the ground, there is actually a growing sense of excitement. The new tram line has opened, the finishing touches are being put to the main streets, with the construction hoardings (present for the last four years) coming down to reveal impressive new surrounds, the cooler weather is allaying fears of the Zika virus and the photos that have leaked out of the opening ceremony’s dress rehearsal are generating widespread buzz on social media.

It is frankly a tragedy that the opportunity to convey that excitement has been missed.

Some sneak previews of the ceremony leaked from the dress rehearsal:


If you would like to learn more about our PR Agency in Brazil and find out how Sherlock Communications can help you meet your objectives, do drop us a line at

Busbud hires Sherlock Comms for PR consultancy

Busbud hires Sherlock Comms for Brazilian brand building campaigns

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As you may have read in PR Week and The Holmes ReportBusbud, international bus travel booking and comparison website and app, has appointed Sherlock Communications as its retained content marketing and PR consultancy for Brazil, following a competitive process.

Sherlock has been briefed with developing creative campaigns that will establish the brand as a significant player in Brazil, building awareness and driving downloads among local and international travellers. The campaigns will span traditional, broadcast, online and social media.

Busbud hires Sherlock Comms

Originally inspired from a South American backpacking trip when cofounder LP Maurice experienced difficulties in finding and buying tickets for international bus travel, Busbud was founded in 2011 and has now the largest sellable bus tickets inventory in the world, serving over two million departures to travellers around the world every week. Users can search, compare and buy tickets from hundreds of bus companies in 10,000 cities across 63 countries and 500,000 different bus routes. Privately funded by angel investors and venture funds, the company is headquartered in Montreal, Canada.

The online bus ticket market in Brazil is still very young and represents a nascent opportunity for innovative brands. However, to realise its potential, there is a real need to identify and then educate target consumers of the value of booking tickets online – not just in Brazil but abroad. This is not as straight-forward as conducting a simple media relations campaign; to capture genuine users or those with the potential to repeat purchase, it is critical to engage them online, at the time they are looking for solutions. Speaking personally, as someone previously frustrated by the limitations of Brazil’s online ticket offerings, a slick service like Busbud’s could not come fast enough.

“Sherlock Communications’ proven experience of brand and news generation campaigns, as well as their obvious knowledge and appreciation of the Brazilian media and cultural landscape, made them the obvious partner for our Brazilian expansion” said, Alain Wong, Director of Marketing and Communications, Busbud.

“The team’s international experience shone through in their proactive approach to assessing and adapting international campaigns and stories, knowing intuitively what we would need to do to make each appropriate to the Brazilian market. Having already had some amazing coverage in our first month, we are already well on the way to realising our strategy in Brazil.”


If you would like to learn more about our PR Agency in Brazil  for PR consultancy, find out how Sherlock Communications can help you meet your objectives, do drop us a line at

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