PR Strategy

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

A view from the games – PR Week interview

By | PR Strategy | No Comments

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

Nation-wide Brazilian media coverage

Nation-wide Brazilian media coverage

By | PR Strategy | No Comments

Media coverage via Instagram

Working with, the largest bus tickets site in the world we recently promoted two separate national stories in Brazil. One a business story to launch a white label product which was aimed at travel and business publications, the second was a piece of research aimed at Brazilian national and travel media about the most Instagrammed locations in Brazil.

We were delighted with the media coverage interest we generated for the business story, especially pleased with the coverage we got in the key travel and business magazines including Brasilturis, Exame and Empresas S.A. However, the coverage we got for the Instagram campaign was just amazing with more than 60 separate articles in publications as varied as UOL Viagem, Pan Rotas, Olhar Digital, Metrópoles, Diário do Nordeste, Terra, Descubra Minas, Boa Informação and Band.

How did we do it? We created a release aimed at the national media coverage and then 27 alternative versions tailored to media in every state in Brazil. In the releases we highlighted, of course, some of the expected results (i.e. Copacabana Beach being the most popular spot for Instagrammers in the entire country) but also on some of the unexpected locations such as football stadiums and shopping malls.  As a result even generating Sherlock Communications first piece of coverage in a football team’s fan publication (thank you Corinthians FC!) and a four minute broadcast interview on CBN, Brazil’s largest speech radio network. Further evidence, if it were needed, that Sherlock Communications continues to be one the best PR agencies in Brazil.

Read the full story here.

The most popular locations from Brazil’s ten most populous states were:

São Paulo – Arena Corinthians

View this post on Instagram

Sou CORINTHIANO, fanático e como mais um louco do bando estou triste sim, mas não desapontado, estou mau acostumado a ver MEU TIME disputando títulos e MUITAS VEZES, ganhando os mesmos, estou chateado por ser eliminado mais uma vez em casa, por ser eliminado mais uma vez com um empate, e mesmo assim ainda estar INVICTO na mesma casa que os rivais fazem, ou pelo menos "tentam" fzr, chacota. Não vou entrar nem no mérito pq se o Corinthians consegue causar tanta repulsa em muitos, é pq de alguma forma ele é de fato MUITO FODA! Tabus estão aí para serem quebrados, e por mais q demore, que tenham mais e mais eliminações em casa, eu NUNCA VOU TE ABANDONAR, nunca vou deixar de te apoiar até o fim, pq CORINTHIANS não se vira, CORINTHIANS se nasce, não vou apontar culpados pela desclassificação, mas vou apoiar, msm estando triste, e crer que no fim a gnt sempre levanta mais uma taça, (NÃO POR FAX) pq aqui não tem modinha, ou torcedor que "escolhe" qdo torcer e qdo quer dar as caras… CORINTHIANS não se esconde, pois sua grandeza é infinita, assim como o amor que nós sentimos por ti! ⚪️⚫️#VaiCorinthians #corinthians #arenacorinthians #sccp #timao #libertadores

A post shared by D G O® (@odgo7) on

Rio de Janeiro – Praia de Copacabana

Bahia – Praia do Forte

Rio Grande Do Sul – Estádio Beira-Rio

Paraná – Foz do Iguaçu

Pernambuco – Porto de Galinhas

Ceará – Canoa Quebrada

Pará – Estação das Docas

Maranhão – Parque Nacional do Lençóis Maranhenses

Minas Gerais – Inhotim


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

Social Meia Study Kantar

What is the typical Brazilian social media diet?

By | PR Strategy | No Comments

Kantar IBOPE Media recently released a revealing infographic showing a ‘panoramic overview’ of the typical Brazilian’s social media consumption habits in 2015, based on the Target Group Index, polling 20,000 Brazilians.

For the benefit of any international PR or marketing professionals who don’t speak Portuguese, we’ve pulled out some of the headline findings below:

Paid TV and simultaneous browsing on the rise

37% of Brazilians watch TV and browser the internet at the same time, watching TV for an average of four and half hours.

The most popular Brazilian TV content is news programmes, films and novellas. 61% of Brazilians say that television advertising is interesting and stimulates conversation.

There has been a 77% increase in paid TV customers since 2010 and consumers, across all TV, show a slight female bias.

Radio still exceptionally a powerful social media

44% of Brazilians listen to radio every single day and it is the principal form of entertainment for 27% of people who live in the populated urban areas in the South and South East.

21% of listeners are between 25 to 34. 42% are class B. The most popular content is music (88%), local news (49%) and, inevitably, traffic updates (35%)

Brazilians spend approximately 3.33 hours online per day. There are fractionally more female “internauts” (53%) than male while 51% come from class B demographic.

Two thirds access the net via smart phones

64% access the net via smart or feature phones, 48% via note books and  45% by desktop.

The most popular online activities for Brazilians are exchanging instant messages (84%), social media (82%) and email (62%).

Local news most popular in newspapers and magazines

A fractionally higher proportion of women read magazines than men while the reverse is true of newspapers.

Only 40% of Brazilians agree that newspapers keep them accurately informed.

The most popular content in Brazilian newspapers is regional or local news (82%), first page stories (72%), national news (70%), international news (47%), sport (46%).

For magazines, it is Brazilian events or news (53%, international events or news (44%), health and lifestyle (40%), celebrity (34%), politics (29%).

Infographic Estudo da Kantar IBOPE Social Media

Estudo da Kantar IBOPE Media


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

International PR and Marketing

The “optimal” exchange rate – cost effective v. effective?

By | PR Strategy | No Comments

Valor Econômico recently reported the conclusions of a new marketing study by economists André Nassif, Carmen Feijó and Eliane Araújo, which argues that after at least ten years of strong appreciation, the Brazilian real’s nominal exchange rate with the dollar achieved “optimal” level in the first half of January ($4.02 to USD$1).

Optimal level in this case being defined as one that accelerates economic growth by reallocating funds efficiently to the most productive sectors.

The premise of the study is that, while extended periods of overvaluation diminish economic development, a small devaluation actually provides short-term stimulus. During a transition processes when the economy is extremely weakened, a devalued currency can create recovery opportunities but competitiveness is only reached through efficiency gains.

To my mind, while the idea that currency valuations can provide a corrective balance is appealing, this last qualifier on efficiency gains points to a more complicated truth in Brazil. Between 1990-2012 Labour Productivity accounted for 91% of growth in China, in Brazil the figure was just 40%. Put simply, efficiency has long been a challenge here.

But what does all this mean for international PR and marketing professionals?

Will the Brazil PR and marketing sector be subject the stimulation and productivity gains posited by the study?

Theoretically, the exchange rate means investing in Brazilian PR and marketing is more cost effective now than at any time in recent memory. But the simple truth is cost effective is not the same as effective.

While budgets set in dollars, pound or Euros may appear to stretch further with current rates, the priority is still what it always has been – strong strategy, strong service and strong execution. This is not always so easily found.

Unlike their international cousins, a more hierarchical business culture means that too many Brazilian brands and professionals still regard basic PR or editorial practices as either isolated and reactionary tactics. Proactive, issues-based or thought-leadership narrative is rare (though conspicuous when it is seen) and effective integration of channels has its own issues (more on that below).

So will the exchange rate change that? Short answer? Yes and No.

Brazilian agencies, and by extension the broader culture among Brazilian marketing professionals, are in a peculiar position as a result of strange law passed in 1960s. Law No.4.680/65 specifies that the pr agency that creates an ad must also buy the media, that gross media commission must be between 15-20 per cent and that further trade discounts should be paid to the agency and not revealed to the client.

Unsurprisingly, this incentivises larger agencies (Brazilian PR agencies as well as advertising agencies) to sell clients media space, and in house professionals are used to this way of thinking. Quite simply, the more inventory you buy, the more you make. Some Brazilian PR agencies will actually make the bulk of their revenues this way, while more traditional media tactics inevitably get deprioritised. It is hard habit to break, whatever side of the pr agency client divide you sit on.

However, sharp reductions in domestic PR budgets and different demands from international clients means that now, more than ever, senior management is putting pressure on teams to demonstrate return and effectiveness.

In that context, regardless of laws or exchange rates, necessity will always be the mother of invention.

Among younger brands and pr agencies in particular, innovation and more rigorous practice of core skills will surely follow.


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

SHERLOCK & SPEED: Your inside track to Rio

By | PR Strategy | No Comments

In just under a year’s time the greatest athletes in the world will be gathering in Brazil for the 2016 Games. Likewise, many of the world’s key brands will also be competing – for relevance, return and cut-through.

For those unfamiliar with the territory, this offers a unique set of challenges that require detailed knowledge of the local market.

To help meet those challenges, we’re proud to announce a partnership between two award winning agencies, Speed Communications, a PR and Communications agency with its Head Office in London and Sherlock Communications, an Anglo-Brazilian Communications agency, operating in Rio and São Paulo.

Together, Sherlock and Speed are offering a unique set of bespoke services to ensure you maximise your investment around the Games.

How we can help:

  • Doing business in Brazil – what to expect, the dos and don’ts and how to avoid last minute headaches
  • Brand and campaign planning – how to create a successful and relevant campaign in Brazil but still maintain a broader international appeal, adapting brand platforms to ensure that communications are harmonious with Brazilian context and values
  • Fixing and facilitating – ensuring that you work with reputable and reliable ground partners that provide genuine value for money. Unfortunately, as soon as they realise a company is foreign, many Brazilian companies will include a dollar or sterling mark-up
  • Press and media relations both in Brazil and internationally
  • Brand or sponsorship activation (from small to large scale) – events, installations, stunts, photo-calls
  • Creative, digital build and social media campaigns
  • Content generation including production of locally sensitive, foreign language content
  • Evaluation and monitoring of results

We’d love to tell you more about how you can get the best from your 2016 campaign

Kate Bosomworth at Speed Communications (

Alasdair Townsend at Sherlock Communications – (

Why Brazil-bound brands should be wary of cultural mistakes

By | PR Strategy | No Comments

Econsultancy recently published this article by me about the cultural pitfalls foreign brands face when entering the Brazilian market.They’ve been kind enough to let us reproduce it in full below.

It’s been well over a decade since the acronym BRICS was introduced into the marketing lexicon.

While steps from foreign brands entering these markets have been largely tentative to date, the World Cup means the eyes and curiosity of the marketing world are now firmly rising to the B of the BRICS, Brazil.

Brazilian culture and consumer spending power (not to mention football) can be beguiling, but brands trying to capitalise on the event need to be wary of succumbing to the dreaded FOMO: fear of missing out.

The Brazilian opportunity

In spite of its infamous bureaucracy, with a rapidly emerging middle-class, extended lines of consumer credit, and one of the most digitally savvy markets in the world, few would deny the Brazilian opportunity.

A friend here recently summed it up well, comparing São Paulo to what he imagined New York must have been like at the turn of the last century: a little intimating but brimming with excitement, opportunity and entrepreneurial energy.

The country features the world’s fourth largest mobile market, the second and fifth largest Facebook and Twitter userships respectively, and a social media economy expected to be worth £238m by the end of the year.

Small wonder then that local agencies and brands consistently produce outstanding creative work, as a glance at the winners of any recent international marketing awards will attest.

To date though, steps into Brazil by foreign brands have, by and large, been measured. And rightly so.

Launching in Brazil requires a serious long-term commitment, not to mention an excellent accounting and legal team. Strong local relationships are fundamental; collaborating with the right partners, that can lend credence to a proposition and help navigate the many potential pitfalls, is crucial to a brand’s long-term success.

It’s a country as rich with cultural intricacies and nuances as it is with opportunities. You only have to look at a brand like Johnnie Walker to see this in practice. Its positioning is clearly tailored to different regions, in one place tapping into pride in family and local heritage, in another presenting itself as a symbol of individual success

But, unsurprisingly, it’s the football that’s threatening to upset the calm and tempt marketers to up the tempo. Though in truth, the London Olympics are partly to blame too.

Ever since everything suddenly went right in London, we’ve all realised the power the feel-good factor a global sporting event can produce in a digitally mature age. The bar has been raised and brands are determined not to be left behind.

Regardless of construction deadlines, cynical press reports and local protests, the truth is success in London – particularly from a global brand perspective – has only heightened anticipation for both the World Cup and Olympics in Brazil.

With marketers anxious not to miss out on a potential green-and-yellow jackpot, there’s a real chance we could see a few foreign brands trying to run before they can walk. History is littered with cautionary tales of marketers who’ve tried to cross cultural divides only to end up with egg on their faces.

There was the time Pepsi opted for a literal translation in China, offering to raise consumers’ ancestors from the dead. Kellogg’s once introduced ‘Burned Farmer’ cereal in Sweden, while Coca-Cola have themselves built a rich history of inadvertently offending, or just plain baffling their audience.

One ambitious sky-writing stunt in Cuba was sabotaged by a rogue gust of wind, leaving the ominous message of ‘Fear Coca-Cola’.

With two sporting events of such a global nature imminent, the temptation can be to chase the success, glitz and excitement seen on TV across borders through seemingly “quicker win” digital channels. But such events don’t work in a vacuum.

Real success in Brazil requires a considered, well-thought out approach. Brands that have tried to be successful with lots of hype but without an adequate product or distribution, or a clearly defined reason for being here, have never worked well in Brazil.

It is essential companies don’t assume that demand for western brands will be enough in itself – a local flavour is always required.

Much like its national team, Brazil is a very exciting prospect, but equally, it can quickly make a fool out of those without their eye on the ball!

Lost in Translation: brands tripping over the Brazilian cultural divide 

  1. KIA 

Automotive makers are notorious for their passion for exportation of their vehicles across the globe, with little consideration for the gaudy monikers they’d bestowed upon them.

Mitsubishi launched ‘the masturbator’ in Spain, Toyota offered Puerto Ricans the chance to drive an ugly old woman, while nobody at General Motors managed to clock that ‘Nova’ (or No Va) translated to ‘It doesn’t go’.

Kia was the unlucky brand to come a cropper with Brazilian/Portuguese slang. Although a popular model in other countries, the Besta van performed poorly in Brazil. While‘besta’ can mean ‘beast’, it also doubles as a rather derogatory term for an idiot.

  1. Revlon 

Revlon attempted to launch a perfume in scented with Camellia flowers, overlooking that the fact that in Brazil, Camellia flowers are synonymous with funeral services.

The company was chastised for its insensitivity and the product was recalled.

  1. Richard Nixon 

The language barrier is one obstacle, but the idea that actions speak louder than words is universal and perhaps an even more highly dangerous trap for those heading to Brazil as Richard Nixon did in the 50s.

What was intended as a good-will trip quickly turned sour when then-Vice President Nixon greeted the Brazilian populace with what we’d recognise as two ‘a-ok’ signs.

Unbeknownst to Nixon, for Brazilians, the round ‘ok’ sign is roughly the same as giving someone the middle finger.

  1. Chana 

In 2011, Chinese car manufacturer Chana has big international expansion plans, but was forced to alter its trading name to Changan upon entering the Brazilian market.

While spelt differently, ‘Chana’ was phonetically identical to a slang term for female genitalia. Not the ideal opening gambit for a new group of consumers.

  1. Ford

Perhaps the most famous story of them all came courtesy of Ford in the early 1970s.

The Ford Pinto is a relatively unremarkable name for a car at face value, and sold well in Europe. But, in launching the imported model into Brazil, that they discovered ‘Pinto’ is Brazilian Portuguese slang for male genitalia.

Unsurprisingly, the model was subsequently renamed Corcel, which (continuing a certain theme), means horse or steed!

Sherlock Comms Logo

Are you looking for an agency in PR Agency in Latin America?

Drop us an email and we'll get back to you as soon as possible!

Get in Touch!