Brazil's Olympic marketing campaign victim of government paralysis

Wed May 4, 2016 12:26pm EDT
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By Anthony Boadle and Stephen Eisenhammer

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Images of Brazilian beaches, samba and soccer should by now be lighting up television sets and adorning metro stations around the world, tempting tourists to flock to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games in August.

But, despite the artwork being ready since February and the launch planned for last month, Brazil's advertising campaign is gathering dust three months before the Games are due to kick off - a victim of the country's political crisis.

The impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff, which could see her forced from office as soon as next week, has stripped her government of political support and left several ministries rudderless.

Tourism, Health, Energy & Mining, and Sports are among the ministerial portfolios now held by civil servants with little political authority as their teams prepare for a new government led by Vice President Michel Temer.

Embratur, the government tourism department responsible for promoting the Olympics overseas, has had three leaders in 30 days, as consecutive parties abandoned Rousseff, derailing efforts to press ahead with the campaign.

"It's been a mess," said one source involved in preparing the Olympic campaign, admitting Brazil was missing an opportunity by leaving it so late. Britain launched its much-lauded "Great" campaign for London 2012 nearly a year before the Games.

Without the international campaign, there has been little to compete with negative headlines surrounding the Zika virus, the deepest economic recession in decades and political collapse.

Several governments, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have advised pregnant women to consider not traveling to Brazil due to the Zika virus.   Continued...

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff attends the launching of the new Family Agriculture plan at Planalto Palace in Brasilia , Brazil, May 3, 2016. REUTERS/Adriano Machado