Nations as Brands

Often I find that the topics I study in one class cross over into another. So today I am going to borrow from the topic du jour of my Cross-Cultural Communications class with Professor Chin: tourism. We talked about the history of the tourist industry and how we are moving away from mass tourism (think stereotypical bus tour) to niche market tourism (medical truism, ecotourism etc). What I want to look at today however is something we touched upon briefly but did not really discuss: how nations brand themselves as tourist destinations! I’ve been amusing myself this evening by looking at various official tourism campaigns. Some are funny, while others are just bad.

Here are two of my favorites:

Costa Rica has decided to use an animated sloth to tell potential North American tourists of the wonders of the country. I’m not sure if a talking sloth is a credible source of information about tourism, but the video does make me laugh!

Inspired by Iceland Invitations from Inspired By Iceland on Vimeo.

Iceland is taking a unusually personal approach to attracting tourists. President Grimsson has gotten involved in Iceland’s most recent tourism campaign by inviting tourists to join him for pancakes (!) at his home and encourages his fellow Icelanders to do the same. Icelanders have taken his call seriously- the “Inspired by Iceland” website posts actually invitations to people’s homes. I must admit that I find this campaign rather charming!

And now for our tourism campaign Hall of Shame:

Australia‘s “Where the Bloody Hell Are You?” campaign was a disaster. England refused to show the commercial because it used the word “bloody” and ordered the complementary billboards to be taken down; Canada was concerned about the alcohol and use of the word “hell”. Parodies were made to pillory Australia’s treatment of aborigines and other ethnicities. Ultimately the campaign received a ton of publicity but failed to attract tourists.

Tunisia attempts to find humor in its unstable political situation in its new tourism campaign. One poster in London (above) features a woman getting a massage with the caption, “They say that in Tunisia some people receive heavy-handed treatment”. Another one shows archeological sites and says that Tunisia is “nothing but ruins.” I see that they’re trying to make lemonade out of lemons, but really guys?! I can’t say that this campaign is successful in making me want to visit Tunisia.

Anyone have other good tourism campaigns to share?



One thought on “Nations as Brands

  1. While I don’t have a tourism campaign to share, I do think that branding nations is a really interesting topic and how they can continue to brand in the 21st century when new media provides so many new outlets for individuals to engage in public diplomacy absent of the state. Will they rely on viral marketing that also continues to accentuate the positive aspects of the country that they wish to promote?

    The United States and other bigger states also have a bigger challenge because there are more people projecting their own small perspective of the US out into the world. Are these people the new public diplomats? Have we gone past Dallas and Baywatch and are now Kim Kardashian and Charlie Sheen? God help us

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