Archivo del February, 2013

Nation Branding: Problem or Solution?

Simon Anholt coined the term “nation branding” in 1996. Since then, he has also persistently warned of the dangerous myth surrounding this concept. A nation can’t be managed as a product, Countries are so complex, rich and diverse, that any would- be manager would  suffer an absolute lack of control. Brand managers are better off limiting themselves to helping the world to understand the real, complex, rich, diverse nature of their people and landscapes.

Spain dreams of strengthening its brand.  A stronger brand will help the economy and reduce unemployment – so the thinking goes. And so we see the retailers telling us “we only sell made in Spain products”, hoping that patriotic consumers will put their money where their mouth is.  Multinational mass market companies pronouncing that Hero jams, Renault cars or Balay appliances are made in Spain (a message that only ever gets broadcast locally). And then there are the “me too “companies attacking leaders like Zara or Mango for eschewing  the Made in Spain line.

Anholt warns of an absolute lack of control that Brand managers have over countries, as well as a lack of common goals. And in a nutshell, this is the problem we have in Spain. The Spanish government has named a High Commissioner – the Alto Comisionado – to manage the brand Spain. It’s an impressive-sounding title. However behind it there is the usual cronyism – a reward for faithful party service. The post itself is a part time position with no retribution, and the challenge of dealing with a brand where no less than four ministries and 20 institutions are competent. The latest decision from this brand manager has been to criticize autonomous regions such as Catalunya for developing their own brands, describing these efforts as squandering resources.

Nation branding, as outlined by Anholt, should follow Socrates’ advice “the way to achieve a better reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.” How a country is perceived depends on too many uncontrollable factors for it to be meangingfully managed. 

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NGO&Corporations: Let’s Talk Collabo-ration!

This week  we are hosting a fascinating academic session as part of our Leadership and Social Innovation in the NGOs Programme. A key area of focus is collaboration with corporations – critical at a time when public sector funding represents up to 80% of NGO income in Spain; and nearly 30% of the NGO have floundered in the last few years.

So let’s look for the Big Fish to paraphrase Bono (U2) who founded the Red Project. As he eloquently put it: “Let’s surf on the back of the wake of these companies. And, I tell you, it won’t be long before our surfboard is moving at its own speed, on its own wave.” Later on, let’s give them a kick in the ass.

Collaboration is a complex matter. Academic research has coined concepts such as “new logic of management emerging” (Crozier, 1997), and spawned talk of “broadening the business model concept to incorporate cross-sector collaborations (….) which can be mutually reinforcing” (Dahan et al, 2010).

But the market orientation concept helps us with a new framework: collaboration means being willing to modify my goals in order to achieve my mission. Collaboration is an area  between Me and You, where we can talk about Us. And collaboration leads us to coopetition – a  neologism that splices competitive cooperation – and collabo-ration – to stress the rationality of the process.

Can you think of an example of collaboration in this sphere? Mine would be the collaboration between Coca Cola and Cruz Roja, both finding the way to talk about us. A rare and precious marketing jewel.

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Please, don’t come, you won’t like it here

Explicar el cómo y porqué del Demarketing es a veces difícil .. hasta que aparecen los casos. El Gobierno de UK está inmerso en una campaña de demarketing para reducir la inmigración a partir del 2014 de ciudadanos rumanos y búlgaros (por el momento, publicity, relaciones públicas, relaciones con mass media): un marketing de “trash its own image”, de “anti-nation branding”, “that the streets here are not paved with gold” . Incluso The Guardian ha propuesto que los ciudadanos propongan la creatividad de la campaña publicitaria. Los atributos, disuasorios: llueve, los derechos en sanidad o vivienda social pueden denegarse, hay poco trabajo, sobran bishops, y además nada comparable a los Cárpatos o el Mar Negro….

Las razones son evidentes: la previsión en el año 2004 de inmigrantes de Polonia fue de 20.000, y finalmente fueron casi 2 millones y según la BBC hoy el polaco es el segundo idioma de las islas, por delante del galés; la previsión oficiosa de la inmigración desde Rumanía y Bulgaria (el Gobierno prefiere no dar cifras) hoy son unos 250.000 en cinco años…. o sea que aplicando la desviación habida quizá llegarán a 25 millones (más no podrán porqué el total de la población son 29 millones).

¿Funciona realmente el Demarketing, podrán desanimar la demanda de emigración a UK?. También se habla de efectos contraproducentes con una campaña de estas características, y quizá como siempre el error en marketing esté en la falta de empatía y de comprensión de qué valoran, de hablarles de “salarios y servicios sociales bajos” o de recordarles lo bonitos que son los Cárpatos a la población de dos países en la cola de la UE, con un salario mediano real de unos 400€ al mes. La misma falta de comprensión del consumidor que llevó a UK a no entender la campaña de Eurostar en Bruselas en el 2007 para atraer turistas belgas a London: el marketing y el demarketing exigen comprensión real de la percepción de los stakeholders, aceptar que los estereotipos y percepciones son más valorados que la realidad.

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