Fiat’s “vem para a rua” strapline, which means “come to the street”, was seen on placards and started trending on social networks last week.
Similarly Johnnie Walker’s “o gigante acordou” slogan, which means “the giant is no longer asleep” and refers to Brazil, was also adopted by protesters. A video combining the two ads was posted on Facebook, according to reports.
Fiat said its campaign was aimed exclusively at “the joy and passion of Brazilians concerning football and its competitions being held in the country”.
It had been reported Fiat was pulling marketing activity early, but the brand denies this and says activity will come to an end on 22 June as planned.
In a statement, a Diageo spokesperson said: “Johnnie Walker clarifies that use of the hashtag #ogiganteacordou, which has representation on social media as a result of current social movements in Brazil, has not been promoted by the brand. The signature “the giant is no longer asleep” was used in the brand campaign in 2011 and 2012, and has not been broadcast since that time”.
Protesters originally took to the streets in response to a rise in public transport costs but the unrest escalated as protesters turned their attention to wider political corruption and the underfunding of education and healthcare in Brazil while the Government invests heavily in supporting the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.
The unrest comes in the middle of the Confederation Cup, largely seen as warm up for the World Cup.
The latest reports claim more than 250,000 people have taken to the streets in more than 100 cities across Brazil. A report quoted by USA Today claims more than three quarters of Brazilians support the protest action.
Read Marketing Week editor Branwell Johnson’s comment on what the protests mean for World Cup sponsors here.