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GLOBAL HEADLINE MAKERS: MIRUM (BRAZIL), MEDIA GRAND PRIX

Mark Tungate 2023-02-07

Continuing our in-depth interviews with Epica's Grand Prix winners, we found out how Mirum in Brazil created a hilarious fake football match with a serious goal.

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“From set-top boxes to modified ‘fire sticks’, illegal streams of soccer matches are a headache that will not go away.”

I read that line in The New York Times in a café on a cold morning in January. It came in handy, because I was about to start writing this article – about Mirum’s “Pirate Match” campaign for DirectvGo, which aimed to tackle exactly that problem.

The agency’s idea is far easier to describe than it was to achieve. While searching for an illegal stream of a Champions League match, viewers stumbled across a game that looked kind of right…but also very wrong. In fact, all the players were impersonators, and the match was a well-orchestrated (and very funny) fake.

Initially, DirectvGo wanted to announce their sponsorship of one of the biggest teams in Brazil, Flamengo, for that season, as well as encouraging viewers to subscribe. When the creative team met, the idea of using impersonators emerged.

Creative director Filipe Matiazi says: “Football is very much loved in Brazil – and so are the players. So there are quite a few ‘doppelgangers’ of well-known players; and some of them are even famous in their own right. The team thought it would be funny to use them in some way.”

Although the idea didn’t quite fit the sponsorship brief, the pieces fell into place when the subject of piracy emerged as a major challenge for the client. “That’s when the idea came back onto the table and we began to develop it more seriously,” says Filipe.

The project became supercharged when it was presented at the global WPP creative meeting – and was universally acclaimed, which meant the agency was greenlighted to invest in it as a potential award-winner, with support from the network. But then, of course, the “pirate match” had to be staged.

The Champions League was strategically chosen for its international status, later attracting the attention of the international press – notably Contagious, which featured the fake match as one of the year’s best ideas.

Agency producer Paulo Setti says: “There was a natural deadline, because we’d identified a particular Champions League match (Atlético Madrid vs. Manchester United), so we needed to have everything ready in just over two weeks. Not all the doppelgangers were here, so we had to import some of them.”

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The guy who played Cristiano Ronaldo, for example, came from Serbia, but happened to be in Brazil visiting his wife’s family. “He’s a model, not a football player – as you can tell from the images. Which was great for us. The less well they played, the better.”

Originally the plan was to have only two or three truly convincing lookalikes per team, but on the day both sides had more than their fair share of doubles. The creative team also gave them funny names: for example “Felix”, which is close to “happy” in Portuguese became “Tristex”, resembling “triste”, or “sad”.

“A lot of them were actors or comedians who already knew one another,” says project manager Amanda de Oliviera, “so the atmosphere was really fun, even though it rained all day.” 

The fake match was recorded – not streamed live – because there was a certain amount of choreography involved. But in the end, little editing was required.


The match was also a challenge – and a triumph – for art director Daniel Mota. As the agency didn’t know who’d be playing in the final round of 16 until two weeks before, the team jerseys, flags and other trimmings couldn’t be prepared in advance. Daniel admits it was suspenseful, to say the least. But, he adds, “I’m a big football fan, so for me it was like a dream. When I was helping to organise those players on the field, it felt like I was playing FIFA in real life.”

Once the fake match was ready, a strategy was needed to ensure viewers would find it. Amanda – who played the role of orchestra conductor to bring all the elements together – says: “While the creative and production part of the project was underway, our media and SEO teams were working behind the scenes figuring out how to use Google Ads and search terms to drive the audience to the match.”

At the same time they worked with the design team to create the landing page, which had to be tagged in Google. So the agency also liaised with Google to make sure they were aware of the project.

Research unearthed several terms viewers use to find illegally streamed matches, which were then bought by the agency. Filipe says: “They were quite unusual terms, specifically related to piracy, so they weren’t too expensive. We didn’t have a huge media budget, but in the end it worked out.”

And what about the reaction of viewers? Weren’t they annoyed to be hoodwinked?

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We work really hard to make things that connect with people

“Actually they loved it,” says Filipe. “As we said, Brazilians live and breathe football. But at the same time, we have a sense of humour about it. Of course, we used teams from other countries. Maybe if we’d used our own teams, we might have gotten a bit of a backlash. But since it was all gringos, people thought it was great…And by the way, Brazilians love pranks!”

As the pirate match was live-streamed, there were live comments. So in the first instance there was a lot of “WTF?” and “What’s happening?” But as the realisation set in, they evolved into: “This is better than the real thing!”

Paulo says: “It was amazing to follow the reactions. Because we inserted the brand’s messages every five minutes or so, encouraging people to subscribe to DirectvGo and see the real thing, the joke become obvious pretty quickly. So you had people saying ‘This is incredible – I’m totally going to subscribe.’ To see that happening live was a great experience.”

Perhaps in general Brazilians are more tolerant of advertising than consumers in other markets? After all, the country has a rich advertising heritage. Filipe confirms: “As a country we’re one of the biggest producers of advertising in the world. It’s a little bit art, a little bit entertainment. We work really hard to make things that connect with people or make them laugh.”

With “The Pirate Match”, Mirum definitely hit that goal.


The agency would also like to thank the other main members of the creative team: Victor Keiti (Associate Creative Director); Thiago Gabardo (Senior Copywriter); Allison Noronha (Copywriter) and Rafael Rudnicki (Senior Art Director).

 

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