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Brazil: The El Dorado of New Experiences

Tomorrow is Brazil Day in Cannes and Marcello Magalhaes, vice president of strategic planning at Leo Burnett Tailor Made (Sao Paulo), has it covered in the all-you-need-to-know Q+A below. Find out more as to why Brazil has earned its very own day at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity (it's a lot more than the World Cup), and don't miss Marcello's session tomorrow at 11:15 am in Cannes at the Debussy.

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Why Brazil and why now? What's happening that's driving this conversation?

Throughout the last few decades, Brazil has experienced a socio-economic phenomenon called The Demographic Bonus, which is characterised by a transformation in the population’s age causing important impacts on economic growth. Since the majority of the Brazilian population is now economically active, a boost in the economy is observed in contrast to prominent stagnation in most parts of mature markets around the world.

Together with the dramatic economic situation in the country, there also have been big shifts in the Brazilian mentality: consumption behaviour, attitudes towards life and the very meaning of prosperity. In fact, we’re going through an unprecedented and vertiginous mindset change in our society.

Can you tell us more about the thesis of your presentation this week, "Boiling Point: Brazil, Creativity, Consumption and Citizenship"?

We are going through a "boiling point" period in Brazil where social roles are being reviewed, reshaped and re-incorporated.

For a vast majority of our population, it is the “El dorado" of new experiences.

Right now, millions of Brazilian families are buying their first new cars, are going out for dinner on a regular basis, are traveling abroad to London, Paris, New York and are even visiting Disney World parks. Millions of families are considering the possibility of opening a new commercial enterprise, connecting to the Internet, building up their Instagram and Facebook profiles, and proudly posting all their recent achievements, from a debut party, to the newly-installed pool in their backyard.

Right now, these families might have more clarity on their duties and rights as consumers rather than as citizens. And you know what? It doesn’t matter, because in a great sense, all this new consumption experience is the entry door for social inclusion. For the first time in generations, millions of Brazilians now have a say and feel like they're more a part of a bigger, national project. For the first time, their role in the society is clearer than ever. Is this a dangerous shortcut to building a sense of citizenship for Brazilians? Maybe, but it’s better than total alienation and stagnation.

As a result, we at Cannes as global brand creators and leaders, should be conscious of the big responsibility we have at-hand while creating and developing the brands that ultimately will become the role models for Brazilians to build and forge their own identity.

What is the “C Class” and what do they represent?

The “C Class” in Brazil accounts for 108 million people (nearly 54% of the population) that spends around R$ 1,17 trillion (US$ 530 billion) and are responsible for 58% of credit in Brazil. They represent a new mentality, an emerging social class of people, 40 million (that’s half of France, or all of Argentina) of which have just become consumers, and are avid for new experiences, hedonism, etc. The new Brazilian middle class is getting more self-confident, hungry for new experiences and achievements, and far more critical and demanding to what government and public structure can provide to them. This is the reason why we’ve been witnessing the frequent street demonstrations throughout the last year.

Brazil has a strong and proud creative history for a long time — why do you think that is?

I do believe it is in our DNA. This nation’s origin, 514 years ago, is fruit of a great miscegenation of native Latin American Indians, Europeans (Portuguese, and later on – right after the second World War: Japanese, Germans, Italians, Lebanese, you name it). However, rather than forming several sub-ethnic groups, Brazil has always been forced to stand as a unique nation, with miscegenation at the centre of it.

Anthropophagy and transformation are at the core of who we are. Since the Portuguese have arrived to the Brazilian coast, cannibalism was a ritual among many native tribes (Tupinambás, Caetés, among others) which was was based on their belief that eating the enemy’s flesh would instill in them their intelligence, courage, strength and other skills.

This yearning for inner change – stemming from raw, foreign material - was never extinguished from our Brazilian essence, and over the course of time has become more sophisticated. Think of the Bossa Nova, which was created from Jazz and Blues, or our national sport futbol, making ours the only national team to win 5 World Cups – the only 5-time FIFA world champion!

This capacity to absorb and consume what’s different and foreign, and to transform it into something new and fresh is creativity at its core.

What does this global community here in Cannes need to know about Brazil?

The global community at Cannes should be conscious that Brazil changes at fast pace, driven by the recent social and economic changes. Millions of Brazilians are eager for the new experiences and pleasures that consumption can provide, and global brands play a crucial role, forging new points of view and new lifestyles.

But don’t be a fool, because we’re no longer the kind of "naive natives" that could simply be seduced by the glowing, shiny effect of small mirrors and do anything in exchange of that. Used to our fast-paced transformational society, we Brazilians can adapt very quickly to this fast and ever-changing new world order.

As Darwin sentenced quite some time ago: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”