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The Business of Happiness

January 26, 2010

DEREK MCIVER, Public Relations

Stewart started a discussion on global marketing, so I thought I’d continue…

A few weeks ago, I visited the office of Chias Marketing in São Paulo, Brazil. The consultancy, which has been extraordinarily successful with its “Marketing, only marketing” model, was started in Barcelona by Josep Chias.

You might recognize their work. Among many other highly visible campaigns, they were responsible for the marketing plans for Spanish tourism, the Barcelona Olympic games, Asturias tourism (personally significant), and, most recently, Brazilian tourism. They have become global leaders in the tourism and cultural marketing space, and Flavia Matos, one of their senior consultants in Brazil, presented to us about just that.

Some of Chias' well-known work

Brazil, as you probably know, will become front-and-center on the world stage in the next few years. In 2014, they will host the World Cup and 2 years later, in 2016, Rio de Janeiro will be the home of the Olympic Games. So far as I know, Chias will be heavily involved in the promotion of these events and Embratur (Brazil’s Board of Tourism) has entrusted them with presenting Brazil as a “Sensational” destination that people want to visit. And while this will be an exciting effort, they must work hard to overcome many negative images people have of Brazil, like violence, poverty, and corruption (to name a few).

This upset one of the Brazilian members of my group. To him, violence and poverty are realities in Brazil, and brushing them aside ignores a huge part of his Brazilian culture. While I understand his perspective, I know that promoting travel to Brazil would not be successful if it highlighted the potential dangers of visiting (“Copacabana – picture perfect, until your camera’s stolen!”). Josep Chias has called tourism marketing the “Business of Happiness” and he has even written a book with that same name (only available in Spanish and Portuguese). He’s on the nose with that – people travel to find happiness outside of their normal lives, so it is a marketer’s responsibility to create the impression that a certain destination can help them discover that.

This is what struck me most about Flavia’s presentation, even though it was only a minor point on her behalf. In a way, our work at the Ictus Initiative is the same. Our clients hire us to promote them, and we will obviously promote only what’s best about them. Of course, there is nothing at all negative about any of our clients, but if there were, it would be illogical to focus on any of those traits. Our clients wouldn’t benefit from it at all, and we’d, well, get fired.

Our primary goal is not necessarily to make our clients’ audiences “happy,” but speaking more broadly, we are responsible for highlighting their value, which is exactly what Chias is doing. I wrote before about the idea of brands as an experience, and whether the brand is Brazil or an Ictus client, the experience the consumer/tourist/audience takes from them must be positive. If we are successful, happiness will surely follow.

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