Rugby is nowhere close to unseating soccer as Brazil’s national sport. But marketers say there’s potential for growth. In neighboring Argentina, soccer is also king. But fans support their beloved Pumas, the national rugby team.
The Topper clothing company's new Brazilian catch phrase is a bit of an odd choice for a country where soccer is almost a religion: "Ai, eu sempre adorei o rubgy" -- Alas, I've always loved rugby. The phrase features prominently in a comic television commercial developed for Topper by the Talent marketing firm.
What was Topper thinking? Maybe that Brazilians, as passionate as they are for their "jogo bonito" (the beautiful game), as they call it, could start warming to rugby too. "We sponsor several rugby teams in Argentina and we wanted to try and help the sport grow in Brazil," says Germán Pipet, head of Topper's Brazil operations. By choosing to do marketing campaigns of this sort, "we're betting on the sport's growth potential," he said.
Topper could very well be on to something. In neighboring Argentina, another soccer-crazed country, the participation of Los Pumas – the national rugby team – in the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand tripled jersey sales worldwide. Los Pumas jerseys sell for nearly $100 a piece. Rugby balls featuring the team's logo go for about $60.
A report published in September by the international consulting firm Deloitte -- based on a survey of 700 participants -- showed that rugby has the greatest growth potential in Brazil in the coming years. Still, it may have to wait until after 2014: that's when the country hosts the World Cup. Of soccer.
Read the original story in Spanish
Photo - Henrique Yasuda
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