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Reinventing brands, reinventing cities: does your marketing strategy invest in Brand Urbanism?

By Guilherme Ikeda and Ariel Sarout

Professionals who work with branding and marketing know it is increasingly hard to stand out. Advertising is starting to be perceived negatively by consumers for being too intrusive and excessive – we are exposed to an average of 3,000 ads per day, according to the “Dimensão 2018” report by Kantar Media. It is no wonder that 77% of brands would not be missed by consumers if they disappeared overnight (“Marcas Significativas 2019”, Havas Group).

This change in consumer perception, a growing interest in local production (local brands represent 46% of global consumption and grow twice as much as international brands, according to the Kantar Media report of 2016), and the increasing pressure on companies to define and embrace larger goals create new opportunities to explore new marketing practices and rethink campaigns.

Brands and their new role in urban development

Nowadays, the majority of the human population lives in urban areas, where most of the world wealth is concentrated and where most of consumers are. Consequently, the main social and environmental challenges (such as transportation, health, food, waste, energy, quality of life, and social inequalities) are also concentrated in these areas. This context, however, must be seen as a great investment opportunity by brands that work with strategies for positive impact.

What if, by supporting cities on improving people’s quality of life, companies could also improve the positioning of their brands in their consumers’ regard?

This is what the rise of Brand Urbanism proposes: this emerging practice consists of allocating a fraction of a brand's marketing and advertising budget to finance urban development and improve the quality of life of city dwellers. Permanent or temporary, these projects are the result of a close collaboration between brands, cities and their inhabitants.

In depth: a study developed by Utopies and JCDecaux

In order to explore Brand Urbanism®, Utopies and JCDecaux carried out a study based on a series of interviews and the analysis of approximately forty cases worldwide (including 9 in Brazil) to define and illustrate this innovative and promising concept.


The study, "Brand Urbanism®: a new role for brands in the public urban spaces", was presented in Brazil at an event held at Saint Paul Business School and published here.

At the event, Luciana Luciana Nicola (Sustainability Head of Itaú), Sabrina Muñoz (Head of Business Development Latam at Telefônica), Andrea Salinas (Director of Marketing and Innovation at JCDecaux) and Cyrille Bellier (Executive Director of Rever Consulting and Utopies Brasil) contributed to the discussion and shared their professional experience. The talks were facilitated by Christiane Aché (Director of Saint Paul's Advanced Boardroom Program for Women).

In practice: two examples of Brand Urbanism®


Bike Itaú: to rethink urban mobility and our relationship with bikes


Bicycles have become a symbol of sustainable transportation. In 2012, Banco Itaú started a self-service bike rental scheme in the city of São Paulo, and today the program reaches more than 1 million active users in Brazil and Santiago (Chile). By providing a service that impacts public utility, the brand showcases itself and ensures its strategic positioning in the core of the cities. For the implementation and scalability of the project, the bank received the essential support of public authorities and cycling activists.

Telefônica uses big data to support solutions to critical environmental issues

In 2016, 4.2 million people worldwide were estimated to die from poor air quality. In São Paulo, where air quality is a recurrent and pressing problem, Telefônica created in 2018 a platform to monitor air pollution by gathering and using large volumes of data. Combined with meteorological, traffic and pollution data in real time, Telefônica has developed an algorithm that allows the city to manage traffic more efficiently. The platform enables the prediction of pollution peak times and prevention by caution measures, such as diverting traffic to alternative routes and advising vulnerable populations.


Besides rethinking urban mobility and seeking ways to solve environmental issues, the study presents the main guidelines currently followed by companies so Brand Urbanism® can contribute to the common good in several ways: promoting access to sports, revitalizing urban spaces, strengthening social ties, and preserving local heritage.


Brazil faces many urban challenges but also offers ambitious and committed brands the opportunity to generate positive impacts within a huge field of investments with great returns in the relationship with consumers.

Would you like to map and develop innovative investment opportunities in marketing strategies with Brand Urbanism®?





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