All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing’ - Edmund Burke


S I E R R A  H E R A L D

Vol 8 No 4

The tendency sometimes to protect perpetrators for the sake of peace...doesn't help society. Impunity should not be allowed to stand. - Kofi Annan on Waki report

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Serbian Ministry of tourism recently said that there will be only 135 thousand euros spent for re-branding of Serbia this year. This is admittedly not a lot of money considering some countries spend that much for the same purpose in a day. But, on the other hand, it is way too much money if you consider the possibility that branding a country shouldn’t be that much difficult and expensive at all.

A good thing about the global financial crisis is that you now often have to improvise and work with what you got to reach the previous goals, which sometimes leads to creative solutions. Here’s my “creative solution” – to treat a country as you would treat a product.

If you plan to market the product for better sales, you usually tend to look at the products good sides and its competitive advantages and try to promote those in a striking, creative and honest way. However, this strategy works usually only if you have a good product to begin with.

If you have a crap product or a product with a bad reputation, you also have to look at the product’s bad sides and denounce them first in order to get to the stage where you promote the good sides.

Let’s take McDonald’s as an example of a crap product that is at the same time successful. The main problem with McD is that it’s not very nutritious or healthy, plus it’s obviously too expensive for what you get. In order for us to forget these things, the advertisers always point out the opposites – healthy-looking people eating burgers, sponsoring the Olympics, nutrition details, always claiming that the products are made of organic food, etc. While this looks like a superficial way of masking the bad product, what they are really saying is “we are aware of the bad things concerning our product and look – we’re trying to fight them as much as we can.”

The people behind McDonald’s ads are the ad companies chosen by the McDonald’s share holders. If you want to advertise a country, it’s a bit more complicated than that – the citizens are obviously the share holders, and the people they choose to represent them – ie, the politicians and MPs – are supposed to create the advertising campaign.

Of course, McDonald’s would never have the mentioned approach if the public, the customers didn’t point out the bad stuff in the first place – by pressing charges, making anti-campaigns, pointing out the dangerous ingredients etc.

Acknowledging the possibility that there is something wrong with your product and trying to remove those things is something that the Ministry of tourism and those involved in ‘re-branding Serbia’ tend to forget. Good news is that this part actually doesn’t cost all that much.

What are the bad things associated with the product “Serbia”?

In short:
Wars, war criminals, nationalism, corruption, and similar things in that general direction.

To get rid of the bad associations, what one has to to is find the opposites to all of them and promote them and stick to them. In fact, it’s so obvious nobody ever thinks of that.

In short:
Put an accent on peaceful future with former “enemy nations”, arrest those charged with war crimes, stop using nationalistic rhetoric and denounce those using it, admit the mistakes from the past and mistakes in the present.

How much would all this cost? I’d say lot less than 135 thousand euros all together.

If you believe this can’t ever happen in Serbia than we might as well stop talking about re-branding the country in the first place.

Yearning for the mother country?

The right choice is Kevin McPhilips Travel

©Sierra Herald 2002