Forbes Used AI to Find the Face of Brazil’s Massive Corporate Corruption

'Ric Brazil' would be No. 8 on this year's Billionaire List

Forbes Brazil
Headshot of Angela Natividad

If white-collar crime had a face, what would it look like?

Corruption exists everywhere there’s money to be made, but some countries suffer worse than others.

Brazil is in that group; corporate malfeasance is a multibillion-dollar business. And while it’s hard to determine exactly how much cash-skimming costs the country, officers with Operaçao Lava Jato (Operation Car Wash)—a branch of Brazil’s federal police charged with investigating the scale of corruption—estimate about $61 billion per year is lost.

That’s a lot of money. In fact, if it were all in the hands of one person, that person would rank 8th on Forbes’ 2018 billionaire list.

But of course, corruption can never be traced down to a single source. So who do you blame?

Alongside Ogilvy, Forbes Brazil created the perfect scapegoat: Ric Brazil.

Ric Brazil is a fictional character whose features were composed using artificial intelligence, with help from tech companies Nexo and Notan. His face, features, consumption habits and even opinions are apparently a composite of numerous white-collar convicts from two notorious investigations in the country, Operation Car Wash and the Mensalão Scandal. Data was drawn from local media reports, statements, interviews and books. The project, which kicked off over eight months ago, is being curated by a journalist and a writer.

The result is a grey-haired white chap in suit and tie.

“The idea behind Mr. Ric Brazil is to put Brazilian corruption figures into perspective,”says Claudio Lima, chief creative officer of Ogilvy Brazil. “The Forbes List is a major tool to help understand a billionaire’s net worth. Therefore, showing that corruption can generate so large a fortune is the best way the magazine has to fight the issue.”

Forbes Brazil has positioned itself as a magazine that’s as much about human values as financial value. Last year, it released a campaign that illustrated what its billionaires list would look like if top earners were women who suffered the “pink tax” of their gender.

And since the release of its 2017 Brazilian billionaires edition, anyone on the list who is currently under investigation for corruption, racketeering, fraudulent capital flight or serious bribery offenses is now marked with a note describing the investigation.

“Forbes wants to take a stand against corruption,” says the magazine’s CEO, Antonio Camarotti. “We thought of this campaign as a way not only to raise public awareness to the extent of the issue, but also to value honest business people—those who comply with their duties, pay taxes, and shun taxpayer’s money as a way to make a fortune. Someone who won’t let himself be lured into corruption practices.”

Ric Brazil, who’d be one of the most powerful figures in the country if he truly existed (and in a way, he does), will debut in the magazine’s April 16 edition.

Agency: Ogilvy Brazil
Title: Ric Brazil
Client: Forbes Brazil Magazine
CEO Ogilvy Group Brazil: Fernando Musa
Chief Creative Officer: Claudio Lima
ECD: Félix del Valle
Creative Director: Eduardo Doss, Guiga Giacomo
Art Director: Paulo Engler
Copywriter: Mariana Albuquerque
Planning: Daniel De Tomazo
Operations Director: Daniel Martins
Project Director: Priscilla Saikai
Project Manning: Beto Campos
UXD: Flávia Goulart, Caroline Salles, Alexander Schevtschenko
Producer: Patricia Silveira
Media: Paulo Ferreira
Account: Juliana Fernandes
Video editor: Deydson Rocha
Motion Design: Thiago Bancaro, Marina Carrijo
Consulting (journalist): Regiane de Oliveira
Client Approval: Antonio Camarotti
Production House: Trator Filmes
Director: Vinicius Colé
Executive Director: Gabriela Lemos e Armando Ruivo
Photography: Vinicius Colé
Producer: Eduardo Saraiva
Sound Producer: Evil Twin
Music: Andre Faria, Murilo Faria, Andre Faria, Murilo Faria e Yuri Chix
Technology: Nexo
Team: Luiz Carvalho, Diego Figueredo, Ariane Camilla, Juliana Marques
Post Production: Stratostorm
3D: Alan Prado
Motion Designer: Kaio Cruz
Compositor: Igor Sacilotto
Image: Estúdio Notan
CGI: Marcos Sampaio

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@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.