Wheel of Fortune? XP Invests in a Gigantic São Paulo Tourist Attraction

The Ferris wheel, adjacent to the financial capital’s Villa-Lobos park, will be the largest in Latin America, and shows the growth of the branding trend in Brazil, into which big companies are throwing money

The Roda Rico, Latin America's biggest Ferris wheel, opens in December in São Paulo.
November 25, 2022 | 02:34 PM

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Bloomberg Línea — From December 9, Foz do Iguaçu, Paraná, will lose the title of the city with the largest Ferris wheel in Latin America as the so-called Roda Rico (named thus by XP, which owns the naming rights) will be unveiled, a big wheel measuring 298.5 feet high, located near Parque Villa-Lobos, in São Paulo’s western zone.

Yup Star, the attraction in Foz do Iguaçu, is 288.7 feet tall.

Rico, a brokerage of Brazilian investment firm XP Inc. (XP) focused on retail clients, lends its name to the tourist attraction, although the value of the contract have not been disclosed.

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The marketing partnership is the latest example of the heating up of a market that has existed for many years in the United States and Europe, but which is only nascent in Brazil: that of naming rights. By associating themselves with cultural and entertainment attractions, companies reinforce their brand and can even promote events for their clients.

As examples of the growth of this trend, In the first half of the year, the Unimed Hall (formerly Credicard Hall) was renamed Vibra São Paulo, and the Folha Theater became UOL Theater.

This is not the first financial institution to seek greater visibility of its brand by entering the entertainment industry, however. Earlier this year, Itaú Unibanco (ITUB4), Brazil’s largest private bank, sponsored the Ferris wheel at the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro, while delivery app iFood associated its brand with a Ferris wheel that stands in Ibirapuera park in São Paulo that opened last year.

Tickets to ride the Ferris wheel are already on sale at the Sympla portal. On the opening date, the entrance costs 50 reais per adult ($9.23) and 25 reais for children, while the VIP cabin (for eight peope and a drink incuded) goes for 350 reais, or 299 reais with the drink.

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In a bid to award loyalty, there will be lower prices for Rico customers, in line with the company’s marketing strategy.

However, ticket prices rise after 3pm, to 55 reais and 27.50 reais, while the VIP cabin price remains the same.

In comparison, the Ferris whell in Foz costs 59 reais and 39 reais a ride, and which lasts 20 minutes in cabins with a maximum capacity of eight people and a minimum of four, with the last ride at 8pm.

The new wheel will spin from Tuesday to Friday, from 9am to 7pm, and on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, from 9am to 8pm, and the ride lasts 25 to 30 minutes. The wheel’s 42 cabins are equipped with air conditioning, camera monitoring, intercoms, and wi-fi.

The Roda Rico wheel will be managed by Interparques, a company specialized in parks and tourist attractions, according to a statement released Wednesday. The Ferris wheel project was designed by the São Paulo office Levisky Arquitetos as part of the revitalization plan for the Pinheiros River.

The São Paulo Big Wheel (SPBW) company won a public tender held by the São Paulo government in 2020. SPBW is a special purpose company that has among its partners Interparques Holding, a company from Santa Catarina. Founded in 2012, it is responsible for the FG Big Wheel, a 213-foot-high Ferris wheel in Balneário Camboriú, a city on the coast of Santa Catarina.

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However, when the project was approved in 2020 by the city government’s Commission for the Protection of Urban Landscape (CPPU), it was determined that the project could not display any type of advertising, as established by the Clean City Law.

In October, SPBW’s advisory emailed Bloomberg Línea about the CPPU’s decision, saying: “We understand that advertising is not approved by the CPPU. What we need is to have the approval of how it will be done following the rules. Otherwise, no company could advertise its name on the façade. The branding will be on the building, not on the wheel itself.”

The public bidding for the São Paulo Ferris wheel in 2020 preceded the concession of the two state parks (Candido Portinari and Villa-Lobos) to the consortium Reserva Novos Parques Urbanos, which also won the 30-year concession for the Água Branca Park, in the neighborhood of the same name, in an auction held at the B3 stock exchange in March of this year.