Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sao Paulo

The Latin America adventure continued from Rio to Sao Paulo. This is the world’s fourth largest metropolis and Brazil’s commercial hub.

We arrived at the new domestic air terminal and went straight to my favorite Sao Paulo hotel, Emiliano. Sao Paulo has three top class boutique hotels, Emiliano, Fasano and Hotel Unique. I am an Emiliano lobbyist with particular affection for Room 1001. There are only 4 rooms per floor and the 01 rooms are all spacious, light, with marble dining tables embedded onto the floor and beautiful curved pinewood desks. Another plus is the heliport on top of the hotel if the traffic gets you down.

One great thing about the Emiliano is its proximity to one of the grooviest boutiques in Brazil for environmentally friendly, organically pure and ethically direct t-shirts. It’s called The Nonsense Boutique and also features Amy Winehouse and A Clockwork Orange, in case it’s all getting too morally highbrow for you. Also, just on the next street is my favorite supermarket, Santa Lucia, which you may remember I posted on last year. Bex excelled herself by picking up mozzarella bites stuffed with anchovies along with some taramosalata with caviar running through for her pita toast.

It was straight from the Emiliano to F/Nazca Saatchi & Saatchi’s 14th birthday party. This was an intimate affair for 1,000 close friends of the agency at the newly opened Buddha Bar. Brazilians certainly know how to party. Fabio and his team took over the bar, moved out all the tables and turned it into the hottest spot in Brazil for the evening. The action started at 10:00pm and was still going at 6:00am. To celebrate the 14 years, seven famous Brazilian singers were paired in duets with singers they hadn’t sung with before, and each sang two songs. It was an amazing evening.

Sao Paulo
is the commercial capital of Brazil and is the poster child for a no poster environment. Last year, the mayor pushed through a non-constitutional bill banning outdoor advertising; a so-called clean city law. There’s a lot of resistance to it. Whilst Al Gore and Naomi Klein might be positive, independent business and media owners, advertisers and consumers are not too happy. Now the government is realising that they are losing tax revenue of around $130,000 million US per annum from this decision, along with job losses of around 20,000 people.

The result of all this is that the landscape looks pure but drab. You are also seeing the birth of the buzz agent. Almost everyone you talk to is recommending or trying to sell you something. It ranges from taxi drivers offering vacation advice to pretty girls offering you just about every brand of spirit you can imagine.

To me, I think Sao Paulo lost a lot of the color and also the vitality that outdoor advertising can offer.