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Urban images and cultural narratives after the Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Added on Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

ailsa Ailsa Peate is a research assistant at the ICC. In this blog, she outlines the ‘Brand Brazil’ project: a transnational collaboration between the ICC and academics from the University of São Paulo that is exploring international representations of Brazil in the wake of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.


In 2016, the ICC’s Director, Dr Beatriz García was awarded a Newton Mobility Grant backed by the British Academy, in conjunction with Professor Paulo Nassar, of the University of São Paulo and supported by Aberje (the Brazilian Association for Business Communication). The grant, part of the UK’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) commitment, provides support for international researchers based in an ODA country such as Brazil to establish and develop collaboration with UK researchers.

The project, entitled ‘Brazil’s urban brand images and cultural narratives in the wake of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games’, aims to assess the impact of mediated cultural representation on the ‘brand’ of Brazil after 2016’s Olympics in Rio. Building on official documentation produced by Brazil’s Organizing Committee for the 2016 Games, and focusing on media content analysis from the UK and Brazil and interviews conducted with stakeholders linked to Rio 2016, the project also aims to establish a sustainable and innovative research link between the University of Liverpool and the University of São Paulo.

With the exciting opportunity for long-term collaboration between academic experts in the UK on mega-event cultural impacts and Brazilian experts in international public relations and narratives, the project encourages discussion from different perspectives on the brand images created by the representations of Brazil and its urban centres in relation to the Olympic Games.

Dr. García and Prof. Nassar have engaged fully with the notion of knowledge exchange – the driving force behind the Newton Mobility Fund – since being granted the award. In August 2016, Dr. García travelled to Rio to discuss Brazilian perspectives of Rio 2016 and place-specific cultural and methodological sensitivities, as well as to share her own experience with methodologies for the evaluation of cultural interventions.

In May 2017, Prof. Nassar and two members of his research team, Mr. Tato Carbonaro and Miss. Cínthia Leone, travelled to the UK in order to further discuss findings, share methodologies, and to provide a workshop for students and academics from the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores University. Attracting attendees from Media and Communication and Modern Languages and Cultures at UoL, and the Film School at LJMU, the workshop encouraged lively discussion on how successful the Rio Olympics were seen to be, on how the country marketed itself in the run-up to and during the event, and what the UK and Brazilian press captured during and in the four years preceding the Games.

streetscenerio2

Eduardo Kobra’s Guiness World Record-breaking graffiti piece along Rio’s Olympic Boulevard.


An additional outcome of the week’s exchange in Liverpool was the opportunity to discuss differences in findings regarding the media portrayal of the Games in Brazil and the UK, as well as the political, social, and economic undercurrents which rose to overshadow Rio 2016. These discussions concluded with the development of specific and impactful research outputs: three newspaper articles and a report on the project, as well as the organisation of a conference to take place at Rio’s new Museum of Tomorrow on August 17th this year, where Dr. García and the University of São Paulo team will present the investigation and its findings, which we will update you on in the coming weeks.

Here, Dr. García herself explains the significance of the project:

A year on from South America’s first ever Olympic Games, this project has been vital in establishing the impact of Rio 2016 on cultural representations of Brazil and its creative cities. Working with the Communication Department at the University of Sao Paulo and Aberjé, exchanging knowledge and methodological approaches, we can better understand the nuanced and fluctuating narratives of Brazil as a creative nation since it secured the Games in 2009.

Our research traces ‘Olympic Brand’ Brazil’s journey, from the hype surrounding bidding and award, the shock of corruption scandals, the financial crisis taking over the country’s global image, to the national catharsis offered by Rio’s opening ceremony and Games fortnight. We have documented key milestones in Rio 2016’s cultural narrative and identified important missed opportunities. We have also identified creative successes and emerging legacies that one year on remain untold.

Our project and final conference provide new essential insights into both the failures and the achievements of Rio 2016 as a catalyst for Creative Brand Brazil. By 2017, can the world see Brazil as a leading hub of culture and creativity? Follow us on Twitter @ICCLiverpool for more insights into mega-events, and check up on the ICC blog for more updates on our event on 17th August in Rio.

You can register to attend the event at (Portuguese language only):  http://www.aberje.com.br/calendario/legado-cultural-dos-jogos-olimpicos-do-rio-historia-um-ano-depois/

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