Nation Branding Lab

A WINDOW INTO HOW CITIES, DESTINATIONS, AND NATIONS LIVE THEIR BRANDS

Category: Nation Branding

Hug Thailand

After the political unrest in 2009, 2010 in Thailand, The Tourism Authority of Thailand partnered with Leo Burnett Thailand and executed a national campaign, Hug Thailand. The 60-second spot went live on Thailand’s national television.

The spot’s both comforting and humorous message is meant to heal and wounds in the minds of Thailand citizens and encourage them to resume their domestic travels. It attempts to capture the beauty of Thailand and its loving people that hug the nature around them and that will also hug you.

This campaign is unique in that the nation branding is meant to be presented to the nation’s own citizens. Although I believe this campaign was more appealing than Thailand’s international nation branding campaign at that time, “Amazing Thailand,” I am not sure if this domestic campaign was an effective persuasion for Thailand’s wounded and tired citizens. For Thailand, changing the citizens’ opinion on the nation and the government would have been only possible through genuine interaction and dialogue between the citizens and the government (with a new culture).  I doubt that with its communications-based approach, “Hug Thailand” was anything more than telling the people what the government wishes to hear them to think.

The World’s Most Democratic Twitter Account: @Sweden

The Curators of Sweden is a project that aims to present Sweden through the eyes of ordinary citizens. Every week, a Swede takes the exclusive control over the Twitter account, @Sweden.This initiative of the National Board for the promotion of Sweden is to create interest in and arouse curiosity for Sweden by painting the picture of Sweden with the new media.

I first thought that it was a innovatively democratic approach to mass communication by the government. The project isn’t all about what the tweets say. It will be about what the nation is doing with a Twitter account. I also thought that since it targets the worldwide audience, it could be a great way to recover from the unexpected damage to the peaceful reputation of Scandinavian countries caused by the tragic gun shooting in Norway last year.

Below, I’ve captured some of the tweets by @Sweden since last December. The tweets consist of outright promotion of Swedish culture, comments on social issues, personal rambling, and even irresponsible comments and links to inappropriate pictures.

Despite the risk coming from handing over the national Twitter account to untrained Swedes, the Curators of Sweden must not not be strictly regulate the tweets beforehand or go through a strict selection process for the account holders. These practices would defeat the democratic purpose of this unique Twitter account. However, they will need to come up with and establish proper guidelines in order to avoid any incident that might cause the twitter account to lose its credibility or authenticity. But again, the significance here is more of what Sweden is doing with its Twitter account instead of what the tweets say.

I believe it is a great attempt to promote Sweden because it seeks the engagement with the rest of the world instead of simply trying to project its image one-sidedly. It allows Sweden to effectively monitor its international image through the dialogue with the international audience. Moreover, the twitter account, both with a personal touch and the gravity that only a national Twitter account can have, successfully democratizes the country brand of Sweden.

Australia’s ‘EntertaiNation Branding’

If you remember, the film Australia, released back in 2008, was starred not only by Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman, but also by Australia and its natural environment. The movie was a success in terms of sales and revenue and many nominations and the awards it had won.

It was the result of the close, clever cooperation among the Tourism Australia, Image of Australia Branch under the government,  film director Luhrmann, and the film corporation 20th Century Fox. The movie proves that if a nation’s government works closely with the entertainment industry to brand the nation’s image, it could result in the most visually scintillating projection of the nation’s image.

This campaign titled, “See the Movie, See the Country”, which turned the film into “a real-life travel adventure” shows how popular culture and entertainment can be an important tool for country brand standing.

Official trailor of the film Australia from Youtube

Brand North Korea

If we define branding as the  process of creating a unique name and image of a product in the minds of people, North Korea may have the best nation branding strategies (IN THEIR OWN WAY).

However, having a powerful brand does not imply that the brand is good. North Korea’s brand is powerful because almost everyone associates the country with extremely negative attributes such as poverty, nuclear weapons, lack of human rights, military government, and an insane leader.

To make it short, North Korea has a powerful and bad brand. Being widely known as a nation does not mean it has a good brand just like the way really really bad manufactured products are.

China’s Campaign Lacks Truthfulness

Back in January, I wrote about the nation branding campaign of China in Time Square of NYC. In the article I talked about the possible conflict between China’s current branding strategy and the government’s integrity.

China’s recent diplomacy contradicts its endeavor to re-brand itself with soft-power. It proves that their branding campaign lacks transparency and truthfulness. While China tries to appear to be open, inviting, and friendly on the global stage, its government continues to keep its odd criteria of censorship on the Internet and speech, human rights on its people, and foreign policy on its neighbors.  With these negative attributes, the new image China wants to promote is never attainable.

Below is the link to an article from Human Rights Watch. Australian Prime Minister Gillard expresses her concern over the serious human rights problems in China as she visits the country.

http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/04/23/australia-gillard-should-spotlight-rights-regression-china

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