On the surface, Count Chiquinho Scarpa more closely resembles a villain from a James Bond movie than he does an activist. Scarpa is well known in his home country of Brazil for his wealth and eccentricities, most notably, his claims that he has willed his fortune to his pet cockatoo and claims that he has bedded a well-known Princess of Monaco. What fun is being a billionaire if you can be a little crazy too, right
Recently Scarpa claimed that since he was done with his $500,000 dollar daily driver, a Bentley, that he was simply going to bury it. He claimed he was taking a page from history where the ancient Pharaohs of Egypt would bury their possessions so that they would have them in the afterlife with them. Magazines, news outlets, and social media coverage was expansive, and public outrage soon followed.
Even though people thought he was insane for not donating the car to charity or some other worthwhile endeavor, Scarpa announced a date, dug a giant hole, and held a press conference to “celebrate” the retirement of his prized vehicle.
As the car was being lowered into the ground, Scarpa broke down into tears and stopped the workers, much to the confusion of the members of the press that he had invited to his mansion for the funeral. Scarpa then said, “People condemn me because I wanted to bury a million dollar Bentley, in fact, most people bury something a lot more valuable than my car. They bury hearts, livers, lungs, eyes, kidneys. This is absurd. So many people waiting for a transplant and you will bury your healthy organs that will save so many lives.”
Scarpa went on to say, “I have not buried my car, but everyone thought it absurd when I said I’d do it. It is absurd to bury their bodies, which can save many lives. Nothing is more valuable. Be a donor, tell your family”. As it turns out, the entire stunt was Scarpa’s way of raising awareness for the beginning of Brazil’s “National Organ Donation Week”.
Scarpa used the power of social media specifically to get attention for the “funeral” of his car, and for weeks was probably one of the most hated men in South America. When it was all said and done, he was truly a hero for his cause.
In social media forums alone, over 172 million people were impacted by Scarpa’s message. Organ donation was the number one social media trend in Brazil and number 2 worldwide. The social media impact regarding organ donation got 734% more reach than the posts about the car burial.
In one month, organ donation registration across Brazil increased by more than 30%. Scarpa’s story is an amazing example of how social media outreach can really make a positive change. Even if you have to play the role of a Bond villain for a few weeks to get your point across.