On Sunday, September 18, 2011, Steven Miles and I drove to Dulles Airport and flew to San Paulo, Brazil to take part in the Analitica Latin America Trade Show.
Before we go any further, let me set a couple of parameters:
- I’m going to use the American English spelling for most things – I know it’s really supposed to be São Paulo, and I know “soccer” is “Football” – so save your comments, I’m writing this for my American friends and want to keep it simple.
- I am not a world traveller, I have not been outside of the U.S. since 1987, what you’re getting is simply one person’s one-week look at a small part of a very large city – please don’t use this as a travel guide
- Steven Miles is the General Manager for Analtech, Inc. – the only U.S. based manufacturer of Thin Layer Chromatography Plates – I’m the Sales and Marketing Director – this was our company’s first time travelling overseas for a trade show.
- What follows are just some random observations – don’t spend too much time looking for a common thread or coherent story line (just a fair warning).
- I cannot overstate how grateful we are to the Delaware Office of International Trade and Development – Deputy Director David Mathé made this entire experience a success.
- In addition to our company, there were four other Delaware-based companies involved with this trip.
- The views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of the State of Delaware nor any of the companies involved with this trip
San Paulo is freaking HUGE! I knew the statistics going in – 19 Million people, 8th largest city in the world, largest city in the western and southern hemispheres, etc., but it’s not until you stand in your 19th floor hotel room and look out to the horizon to see nothing but more city that you start to grasp how big this city is. Imagine going to the top of the Empire State Building and looking around to see nothing but skyscrapers in every direction as far as the eye can see – that’s San Paulo.
Again, we were told ahead of time how bad the traffic is, but it wasn’t until we got there and saw how everyone basically pads their travel time by hours – even if they are just travelling a few miles – that you realize how bad it is. We gave ourselves three hours to travel the 26 miles to the airport – it only took us 2 hours and 15 minutes to get there – SCORE! Seriously, the driving is insane, cars crossing multiple lanes in bumper-to-bumper traffic, motorcycles speeding by in between lanes – this kind of driving would be enough to scare a Boston driver.
The People of San Paulo are Genuinely Nice:
I did my best to get out during free time and discover as much as possible outside of the hotel – what I found everywhere was genuinely friendly, helpful people who were ready to engage, whether they spoke English or we exchanged information in the universal language of pantomime, pointing, and simple words repeated loudly. I liked everyone I met in Brazil.
Be Still My Little Geek Heart:
I recently went to Theatre N in Wilmington to see “Pom Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold” with Morgan Spurlock (same guy who did “Supersize Me”). The film is a great look at advertising, product placement, and marketing. In the movie, Morgan travels to San Paulo because it is the only city in the world that has a ban on outdoor advertising (no billboards, bus signs, nothing). While in San Paulo, Morgan stayed at the hotel that helped sponsor the film – that’s right, the Grand Hyatt – the same hotel where we were staying (the Red hot Chili Peppers were staying there at the same time we were, but no, we didn’t get to run into them). When I asked the hotel staff about Morgan Spurlock’s stay, I was told that I was sitting in the same chair that Morgan sat in when he checked in. Yes, I know, I’m a geek.
Brazil = Soccer
The country of Brazil is defined by soccer. When Charles Miller returned to Brazil in 1894 with two soccer balls and a rule book, the country didn’t really have much of a national identity. As the sport spread in popularity, and with the advent of radio broadcasts, Brazil came to be a nation identified by this International Sport. Brazil is the only country to have participated in every World Cup competition.
American Influence Everywhere
Flipping through channels on the TV in our hotel room, I found several channels that seemed to be devoted to nothing but American television programs – from the American movie channel to the American Sit-Com channel to the American Crime-Drama channel – all with Portuguese subtitles. A walk to the local mall felt like I was at any of Delaware’s malls – same stores, same displays, same food court with McDonald’s, Burger King, and Subway. Most telling, though, was walking through the book/music/movie store (not sure what the store was called, but it might as well have been Barnes and Noble) and seeing rack after rack of American movies and television available on DVD.
Staying Connected to Delaware
I assume that just a few years ago a trip like this would have meant going a week without news and information about home. But on this trip I felt like our entire group was connected with the state every day – we spent our mornings listening to WDEL, WILM, and WGMD online, we were reading Town Square Delaware, Delawareonline, and other sites, we continued to get the e-mail updates letting us know about the latest updates. For a news junkie like me, that was great!
A Trade Show is a trade show is a trade show…
Whether you go to a trade show in New York, Las Vegas, or San Paulo – they all look and feel the same. The value is always in face-to-face meetings – and we got a lot of value out of this trip – but I think all trade shows look alike.
Ready to Go Again
I’ll gladly return to Brazil any time. And I’m ready for more international travel.