Brazil: Futepoca Outs a Tout


Ronaldo: ACL injury may cut short the career of the
craque dentuço.

[Nike’s viral marketers from the RIOT agency] are not trying to buy ad space, which is completely normal and common on any site or in any publication. They are trying to buy content.

The Brazilian news media is overrun with information, presented as journalistic reporting, whose principle motivation is to serve the commercial interests of third parties, without the reader, viewer, listener or Internet user being informed of this.Ricardo Kaufmann

Writing in the Observatório da Imprensa (Brazil), Glauco Faria outs a tout. The Brazilians are discovering that Edelman-style “astroturf” campaigns can be a major pain in the credibility of the jogo bonito marketing concept.

Junto com outros oito jornalistas, faço parte de um blog chamado Futepoca, que trata prioritariamente de futebol (já que nenhum de nós trabalha na área, mas gostamos muito do tema). Na terça-feira (26/2), a equipe recebeu um e-mail, no mínimo, curioso. Vinha com o título “Texto sobre Ronaldo” e o remetente era alguém de uma empresa de “marketing viral”. Dizia o e-mail:

Together with eight other journalists, I am part of a blog called Futepoca, which mostly deals with football (soccer) — not that any of us works in sports, but we like the topic a lot. On February 26, we got an e-mail that was curious, to say the least. It came with the heading “Article on Ronaldo” and the sender was someone from a “viral marketing” company. The e-mail read:

“Olá Equipe do Blog FUTEPOCA!

Hey there, FUTEPOCA Bloggers!

Trabalho na Agência RIOT, especializada em Estratégias para Mídias Sociais.

I work at the RIOT agency, which specializes in Social Media Strategy.

According to its Web site, “most recently organized the Nokia Revolution in Buenos Aires!”

Visitei o seu blog e gostei bastante do conteúdo.

I visited your blog and like the content a lot.

Dessa forma, achei bastante relevante sugerir à vocês a divulgação do site da Nike especializado na `recuperação´ do jogador Ronaldo, que realizou, no último dia 14, uma cirurgia no tendão do joelho esquerdo. Este site foi criado pela Nike para que os fãs de Ronaldo transmitam força e motivação ao jogador, para que ele retorne aos campos o mais breve possível e volte a encantar os amantes de futebol.

For that reason, I thought it would be very relevant to suggest that you write about the Nike Web site on the “recovery” of Ronaldo, which had surgery on February 14 on his left knee. This site was created by Nike so that fans of Ronaldo could send good wishes and motivation to the player so he can return to the field as soon as possible and once again captivate football lovers.

The letter with the indecent proposal in italics.

Football lovers here were not all that captivated with the player after the World Cup loss to France in 2006, I can tell you that.

O site dedicado ao Ronaldo é o [URL]

Nike’s Ronaldo Web site is [URL]

Estou enviando um pequeno texto explicativo, dando algumas instruções sobre como poderia ser escrito este texto, ok?

I am sending you a small explanatory note with some instruction on how this article might be written, okay?

Caso vocês aceitem escrever sobre o Ronaldo e o resultado no blog, comentários e etc., for positivo, em uma outra oportunidade podemos, quem sabe, firmar alguma espécie de parceria, ok? Este post que estamos sugerindo, seria uma espécie de Post Piloto. Dando resultados dessa vez, surgindo novas campanhas pertinentes ao seu blog, poderemos conversar novamente, ok?

In case you agree to write about Ronaldo and the results on your blog — comments and the like — are positive, who knows, maybe we could form some sort of partnership, okay? This post I am suggested would be sort of a pilot post. If it gets results, and new campaigns come up that are relevant to your blog, we can talk again, okay?

PS.: Caso aceitem, precisamos que o texto seja escrito e postado até amanhã (dia 27) pela noite, ok? Qualquer dúvida, entrem em contato comigo.”

PS: If you accept, we need the text written and posted by tomorrow night, okay? Any questions, contact me.

Apoio “espontâneo”

“Spontaneous” support

“Marketing viral” é uma forma utilizada por diversas empresas para tornar mais conhecida uma marca, tendo como nicho inicial as redes sociais. A idéia é fazer com que peças sejam reproduzidas como uma “epidemia”. Agora os promotores de tais campanhas começam a usar os blogs – pelo fato de a maioria ter um caráter supostamente “amador” – como forma de divulgar seus produtos.

“Viral marketing” is a method used by a lot of companies to increase their brand recognition, and has social networks as its initial niche. The idea is for publicity campaigns to reproduce like an “epidemic.” Now the promoters of these campaigns are starting to use blogs — because these have a supposedly “amateur” characer — as a way of promoting their products.

No entanto, ao contrário de outras campanhas, a “proposta” dirigida em nome da Nike tem uma clara promessa de “futuros negócios”, como evidencia a parte em negrito. É algo que devirtua o próprio conceito de marketing viral, sendo apenas a sugestão pouco sutil de um post pago. Eles não estão tentando comprar um espaço publicitário, algo totalmente comum e normal em qualquer site ou veículo de mídia. Tentam comprar conteúdo.

Unlike other campaigns, however, the “proposal” made in Nike’s name contains a clear promise of “future dealings,” as is evident from the part I reproduced in boldface. This is something that undermines the very concept of viral marketing, because it is nothing more than a subtle suggestion of a paid post. They are not trying to buy ad space, which is completely normal and common on any site or in any publication. They are trying to buy editorial content.

Abaixo, as “indicações” transmitidas por eles de como o blogueiro deve fazer o tal post:

Below, the “guidelines” they sent on how the blogger ought to write up the post:

“O post consiste em redigir um breve texto falando do fenômeno Ronaldo, suas conquistas no Brasil e no Exterior. O texto deve ser focado no enobrecimento do jogador, que adquiriu, através de suas conquistas, status de `fenômeno´. Dentro deste texto, ou ao final dele, deve ser inserido o link que dará acesso ao site [URL]. Procure motivar as pessoas a transmitir força ao jogador, convidando-os a criar um vídeo de comemoração de um gol, fazendo uso da marca registrada de Ronaldo, que é o dedo indicador direito erguido [há exemplos no site]. Procure também, enfatizar a opção de enviar mensagens diretamente no portal da Nike ou via SMS. O texto deve motivar as pessoas a dar este apoio de uma forma espontânea, fazendo referência à paixão pelo futebol e ao grande jogador Ronaldo.”

“The post consists of writing a short article on the Ronaldo phenomenon, his conquests in Brazil and abroad. It should focus on ennobling the player, who has acquired, through his many success, the status of a “phenomenon.” In this text, or just below it, the link to the Nike site [URL omitted –Ed.] should be inserted. Try to motivate people to send the player good wishes, or create a video celebrating a memorable goal, showing Ronaldo’s trademark, which is a raised index finger [there are examples on the site].

A professional athlete jumping up and down and signalling, “I am No. 1!”

I always thought that was the trademark of multisport standout Deion Sanders of the Dallas-Cincinnati Cowboy-Reds.

Does Nike have a patent on this brilliant and innovative concept?

Try also to emphasize the opportunity to send messages directly through the Nike portal or by SMS. The post should motivate people to support the player spontaneously, referring to the passion for football and the great player Ronaldo.”

Again, widely pointed to as the goat of the 2006 World Cup (somewhat unfairly, I thought — the French goal in that semifinal match was just brilliant, and the Gallic defense as dogged as a full-sized poodle, whose canine virtues are often unjustly denigrated — but it certainly was a disappointing result for those who root for the Timão, as we do).

Marqueteiros causam desânimo

Marketers demoralize

Viram as “indicações”? Peguem trechos e joguem no Google. Verão que vários sites e blogs contêm trechos literais. Outros seguem bem o que pede o “espírito” do briefing. Talvez diversos blogueiros tenham aproveitado justamente sua admiração por Ronaldo e fizeram o post por meio desse “incentivo”, mas com boa-fé. Entretanto, na prática, fica difícil diferenciar quem fez por admiração e quem fez por conta simplesmente das promessas do tal e-mail. Fica difícil para o leitor acreditar que o autor do site escreve por convicção.

You see those “guidelines”? Copy and paste a selection into Google. You will see that various Web sites and blogs contain verbatim passages of it. Others follow the “spirit” of the briefing more closely. It could be that a number of different bloggers really did express their admiration for Ronaldo and posted under this “incentive,” but in good faith. However, in practice, it is difficult to tell the difference between sincere admirers and those who did it simply because of the promises the e-mail made. It is difficult for the reader to believe that the Web site author is sincere.

Porém, há que ser feita uma distinção mais séria. Há sites e blogs ligados mais a entretenimento, feitos sem critérios jornalísticos, e os feitos por jornalistas, que supostamente deveriam seguir as diretrizes que regem essa prática tão maltratada nos dias atuais. Esses não podem, em hipótese alguma, aceitar tal tipo de “oferta”. Por isso, sequer respondemos tal proposta. O Futepoca muitas vezes não é jornalístico, trata de assuntos com bom humor e certa pilhéria, como na criação de campanhas ou outras enquetes feitas pra brincar com a torcida. Mas na maior parte das vezes, inclusive no trato de informações divulgadas em outros veículos, critérios claros são seguidos. Afinal, apesar de nenhum de nós ser da área esportiva em nossas carreiras, somos jornalistas em tempo integral.

But there is a more serious distinction to be made here. There are sites and blogs that focus more on entertainment that are authored without any journalistic standards, and there are Web sites authored by journalists, who supposed ought to follow the standards of this profession, which are so often abused these days. The latter cannot accept such an offer under any circumstances. For that reason, our site did not even respond. Futepoca is often not journalistic, it deals with its subject matter with humor and a bit of irreverence, such as creating campaigns to make fun of the organized fan clubs. But most of the time, including the treatment of information run in other publications, clear standards are followed. After all, even though none of us are sports professionals, we are full-time journalists in our working lives.

Futepoca is a portmanteau word combining football (soccer) and “popcorn” — a metaphor for light, fast-paced entertainment.

Por isso, o estranhamento não é com o fato de a tal informação da Nike ter sido sido veiculada em sites noticiosos, mas principalmente com a forma como a “notícia” foi dada. No site Futebol Interior, por exemplo, o título dizia: “Nike faz campanha mundial pró-Ronaldo. Participe!” Algo que faria corar qualquer estudante de Jornalismo. Outros blogs e sites também republicaram.

For that reason, what surprises us is not that the Nike item would have been published on news sites, but mainly the way the “news” was delivered. On the Futebol Interior site, for example, the headline was “Nike runs a global pro-Ronaldo campaign. Participate!” Any first-year journalism student would blush. Other blogs and sites also republished the campaign.

A contribuição dos blogs para a democratização da comunicação no Brasil e no mundo vem sendo decisiva. Mas esse tipo de ação marqueteira, quando encontra eco na blogosfera, causa desânimo. Já a ação do marketing ostensivo de grandes empresas na mídia esportiva não é novidade. Mas continua um fato lamentável.

The contribution of blogs to the democratization of social communication in Brazil and in the world is becoming decisive. But this type of marketing campaign, when echoed in the blogosophere, is demoralizing. Nor is [advertorial marketing] in the major commercial media a new fact. But it continues to be a lamentable one.

Disclosure: I have always been a New Balance man myself, but my last pair of very fancy running shoes were Adidas.

They were on sale, and reminded me of mini-nuclear submarines for your feet. I have owned some Nikes in my day, though. Good shoes. The child-labor thing bothers me, though.

Advertorial has crept into the U.S. media in the last decade to an alarming degree — that Time magazine cover story on the iPhone, what the f**k was that about? — but it is practiced with a degree of exuberance and ball-out shamelessness in Brazil that is unmatched in my experience of the wider world of (business competition as a blood) sport.

Which is sort of the point of Mr. Nassif’s series on Veja magazine, is it not?

That Diogo Mainardi & Co. are the Ronaldos of greasy, mercenary undisclosed institutional conflicts of interest.

Nassif is making a pretty compelling case, too.

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