Necessary austerity means there is minimal fanfare for 2016 – the view from Rio de Janeiro

As I write, there are less than 80 days until the opening ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games kicks off.  

Yet despite the proximity of the largest global event in the 451-year history of this famous city, it is far from the thoughts of most Brazilians.  

After President Dilma Roussef’s government was routed in both the Senate and Congress, one topic alone dominates life here; impeachment.

Now that Dilma has been suspended from office for up to six months whilst on trial, her former Vice President is now the Acting President.  

The matter is particularly complex and controversial with even some Brazilians who support the impeachment process uneasy with the reality that the next three politicians in line of succession are either under investigation for large-scale corruption or facing an impeachment process of their own.  

Michel Temer’s interim cabinet has also stirred intense controversy with no women or ethnic minorities represented and a suspicious stench of corruption coming attached to some. These are just some concerns in a series of troubling issues that I would not be able to do justice in a short article.

The current controversy has laid bare a country deeply divided along racial, socio-economic, ideological and even regional lines.  Painfully symbolic of this is the 1km long metal wall that was erected in the capital Brasilia to keep 'for' and 'against' citizens apart during the two votes.

Against this backdrop, the IOC has declared itself very happy with Rio’s progress and their confidence in Olympic deadlines being met.  In any other period, this would have been big news in Brazil; positivity in stark contrast to the scolding publically meted out just two years ago.  

However, the good news passed for more of a footnote locally.  Walking the streets and drinking in the bars of Rio you would also be forgiven for not realising that you are in the 2016 Olympic Host City.  Necessary austerity means there is minimal fanfare or communication.

Despite the problems, Brazil remains a vibrant, colourful country with many positive qualities.

With every difficult political climate, there remain opportunities and challenges for any company or brand. With a population so divided, there is a need to be neutral in any communications approach, focusing on how to bring added value to customers and audiences.

A focus on brand values and clarity of messaging allied with a show of confidence in the qualities inherent in Brazil will enable audiences to identify with you and for your message to be heard.