Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Signs of a Nation: The story continues

Yesterday I talked about Monocle’s 6 ways to brand a nation. In the same issue, they talked about how you can make your country stand out. A few years back, Geoff Vuleta, Derek Lockwood and I were attempting to convince the New Zealand government to give Saatchi & Saatchi a crack at developing an out of the box, extraordinary tourism campaign for New Zealand. A campaign that would put us on the map everywhere. It’s hard to break through the very competitive tourism clutter, and we had an idea that was astonishing in its audacity and innovation. Politics ultimately got in the way and the idea never saw the light. Monocle gives us 10 things to do to make sure your nation can compete with the best of the best. And what are the best nation brands? I’d put Italy, France, Ireland, Switzerland, Singapore and Dubai in my Top 10.

Here’s Monocle’s formula.

1. Develop an appealing national cuisine. Every woman knows the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Look at what France, Italy, Japan, Mexico, China and Thailand have done in this area. One thing’s for sure, New Zealand and Australia are not at the top of the totem pole in this game.

2. Develop a local wine, beer or spirit industry. Both New Zealand and Australia have done a fantastic job in wine and beer. Some might argue Bundaberg Rum (but only if you live in Queensland!) and 42Below have proven that nothing is impossible. A vodka from New Zealand. You have to love it.

3. Be recognized for being fair and just. New Zealand has taken a very positive stance in this area in terms of female emancipation, our position on the nuclear issue and view on conflicts that have very little to do with us. Visitors don’t want to get involved in Draconian local legislation, corrupt justice systems, or human rights issues.

4. Re-engineer the heavens. Neither New Zealand or Australia are faced with this particular problem. What passes for summer in the Northern Hemisphere is our winter, and we’re playing rugby. In the miserable Northern Hemisphere winter, it is summer in God’s Own. Places like Scandinavia successfully re-engineered the heavens by having all their travel photography being shot on that one golden day in July!

5. A good brand travels. Last week Air New Zealand was rated the number 2 long distance airline by readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine. Singapore and Dubai owe everything to their 2 magnificent airlines. Unfortunately, British Airways and Heathrow aren’t quite the advertisement they used to be for the UK.

6. Behave yourself. Lager louts, race riots, taxi and tube strikes are not the best way to encourage tourism. New Zealand must be in the top 3 in this area with its easy going hospitality and relaxed and friendly population.

7. Go easy on religion. Religious fanaticism and extremism is off putting wherever it’s practiced. As Dave Allen said at the end of every show, “May your God go with you”.

8. Master infrastructure. Crowded airports, inefficient trains and public transport on strike do not add up to great experiences.

9. Build brands people want. Italy, Sweden, Denmark and Ireland have all built brands. In some cases they are Lovemarks. So, how did they do it? Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy are the key. Think Italy and Brazil.

10. Invest in sports. Go the All Blacks in France. Bring back the America’s Cup, Dalts.


Codec said...

Stopping the brain drain: How would you fix the marketing education?


I didn't know how else to contact you so please forgive the long comment.
I've read all your blog for quite some time now and thanks for some great insights. I'm a recent graduate (All of 5 months ago) of NYU-Stern's undergrad program with degrees in Marketing & International Business. Currently I'm working as a new media consultant for a group of venture capitalists and was recently interviewing a group of current students for an intern position and found that only 1 of 8 of the kids knew what a blog was and that one person had no idea what an RSS reader was. I was appalled. Thus, I contacted the NYU marketing faculty and they have bought in to the idea of revamping aspects of their marketing curriculum. Currently they have agreed to creating a monthly seminar series (I believe that classes are too inflexible to keep up with the fast changes marketing world so a seminar series can stay more current and relevant) and 2 foundational classes on the future of marketing/ new media. The current education simply doesn’t adequately prepare students.

So I want to ask you two things:

#1: What do you think are the biggest wrongs in today's marketing education and what would you do to fix them? Could you post this on your blog to start a conversation on this issue? Also you can frame this around corporate training programs or just information people in this industry ignore.

#2: Would you be interested in joining an advisory board for this experiment? I have plans to role this out nationally and I am in the process of creating a central core group of thought leaders that academia can reach out too for guidance.

Seni Thomas

Susan Plunkett said...

Kevin. I feel playful today so I will match my comments against your points.

1. It is rather difficult for a young country to develop its own cuisine fare. Here there is great fusion cooking or simply great seafood or steak. We have a global population now with tremendous cross influences. But the Aussie Steakhouse that is found in the US (I 'think' that is the name) is not representative of our fare. SHAME.

Oh, and you mean if I learn to cook properly I may score a man yet? Lead me to the apron Macduff! Just don't ask me (I am saying to imaginary man called...hmmm "Miles") to kill and skin you a roo or de-prickle an echidna unless you're really serious!

2. Ever had Dark and Stormy? Interesting rum/ginger beer product combo. Ginger beer also made by Bundies from Buderim ginger I think. Coopers beer is always worth a try. A friend of mine used to make a home brew Coopers that would have rivaled any boutique brewer.

3. Important issues globally and our track record needs improvement here - as do many many countries. Canada still faces many outstanding issues re its indigenous people as do we. And let's stop whaling Japan.

4. Often as I gaze from my apartment balcony here in Redfern I think about living a year or two ago in the middle of relative nowhere and the brilliance of the stars at that place. Take away city lights and the heavens come down and hold you. It's a marvelous feeling. Maybe this is not re-engineering the heavens but being led to experience your country in different ways. Not sure about other nations but it is cheaper here to fly to NZ than to go to Perth (or has been traditionally). Many Australians have not seen their own nation.

5. I have been asking myself lately what I would do if the opportunity arose for me to go overseas - considering I am terrified of plane flight. I keep reminding myself of Singapore Airlines - oh, and if I can cook well I might get business class. Darn, where is the food processor?

6. I hear very very little negative commentary from people who visit here as tourists. I am regularly told how friendly and helpful we are. Then again, take older Aussies overseas in a tour bus and prepare for loud renditions of the Dog On The Tucker Box. The balance is that we can generally laugh at ourselves and I think that a good place to be.

6. Agreed and I think there are good things going on here in response to divides that arose post 9/11. We are talking about issues and not pushing them under.

8. Very true. I have a problem knee and am using a walking stick right now and I find trains here impossible and few staff around to assist. But very good point. Conversely, have you noticed how clinical some very 'designed' cities can be? Canberra to me has little soul even while having some beautiful features and buildings.

9. Think Italy and Brazil. Pasta and nuts? :)

10. I'll never forget Bob Hawke's reaction when we won the America's Cup.

I must say, another thing I do like about us Aussies is our tendency to celebrate the 'bloke' etc. I like the fact you can quip to people in a totally ad hoc manner here and generally receive a good response. We're not as 'precious' as some nations and yet we have a solid serious streak under that. Or so I've found - and am.

Susan Plunkett said...

Could I add point 11? Challenging twee over-represented humour about a country seen in media. For example, if I see one more travel show person lifting the kilt of a Scotsman and making silly humour I won't believe it.

In this sense I think Australians can sometimes revert to childish, over done humour. Please locate different script writers if that's all they can arrive at. My maternal grandmother was Black Watch and its way more interesting to note clan colours and what they represent.

Susan Plunkett said...

Seni..are comments from other's welcome or are you only seeking Kevin's opinion? As an educator I have a few things to throw into the ring.

If you have perceived that the short fall is principally in keeping students knowledgeable and updated re technology (hence you have answered your initial question to Kevin - at least in part), what specific skills and knowledge do you believe Kevin holds that would service that need? Do you need a marketing expert or a techno expert? In the medium to long term you may desire people from various fields but for the need you have outlined, I would recommend techno and educators (if the techno people do not have education program training).

I'm perceiving that you have jumped from an excellent primary focus of tech knowledge shortfall into a much broader and potentially hugely diverse field. Is this what you really want to do? If so, are you seeing the problematics in adopting that approach?

If I were to advise you, I would suggest you remain on track in that first core program. Use that as your 'pilot' test. Develop [credibility about] your own skill level and knowledge about how to develop responsive education programs and, in turn, move from that position.

There are loads of ultra knowledgeable and well versed people e.g. Howard Rheingold (with the groovy painted shoes) that I would draw on for your skills shortfall in the short term. There are, by the way, many fantastic multi-media programs in Arts schools that do offer marketing type electives. I would be looking up a few of those departments and checking out expertise.

If the institution you mention a traditional sandstone type university or one of the newer breed?

Piotr Jakubowski said...

I think number 5, 6 and 7 are such great points in terms of mastering a positive image of one's country as a brand. Travelling as much as I have in the past, I have noticed that the most pleasurable experiences come out of places that are relatively organized and everything flows smoothly. Then again, things like backpacking through Thailand riding on the back of motorbikes could also be a marketable asset, given the right target market.

Changi Airport in Singapore is by far one of my favorite in the world. That's one airport I wouldn't mind being delayed in.

It's interesting how 3 of the nation brands you placed there don't have much in terms of size to work with. But when the barriers go up, they figured out other ways to cash in on their identity.

Susan Plunkett said...

I asked an open group to nominate a country that was not their own and to tell 5 features. Interesting outcome.

For those who haven't visited the countries the media is the strongest influence. Those who have indeed visited the countries had different knowledge depths (of course to be expected).

When people talked across countries and compared that way it was often sport and food that provided the links e.g. beer and hockey for Canada, Germany et al.

Israel apparently has an examination system for its tourist guides and the people who had experience of the guides were able to talk about sites with a strong degree of cultural depth. So a guide has been booked to take a group of Mormans on a tour the following week? The guide reads in depth about Mormons and Mormon culture and mores. Excellent two way information passage which counts a lot in terms of service delivery I believe.

People on first or initial travels want a lot of hand holding and guidance. Later visits they enjoy being guided to self explore. Many people loved unexpected events when self touring e.g. arriving in a village during a wedding and suddenly becoming part of the celebration.

Open armed country men and woman count for a lot when people begin to explore the country independently. Should/could citizens be guided towards knowing [how to accomplish] this? Citizen tourism.

Kevin Roberts said...

Seni – Have to say I find it really hard to believe that only 1 in 8 kids know what a blog is! The only problem with today’s marketing education is that it can’t move fast enough. By the time it gets into a university paper, it’s already 3 or 4 years old and other marketers and, most importantly, consumers will have moved on. You can learn all of the theory / case studies in the world, but marketing is really about understanding what attracts consumers. I will give this some more thought. A university education teaches people ways to think. The problem is that in marketing, like most other disciplines, intuition and on-the-job learning often turns that thinking upside down. As you may know I do some teaching at the Judge Business School at Cambridge University. I have found that what the students are hungry for are first hand accounts of how marketing theory works in the real world. Bringing in working CEOs and dropping them into the mix works well. As to the Advisory Board. Send me your thoughts via this page http://www.saatchikevin.com/Contact/ and I'll get back to you.

Kevin Roberts said...

Piotr – I’d have to disagree with you here. One of my favorite places to visit is also one of the least organized – Italy. Chaos and passion, where else can a simple thing like ordering coffee become a cultural experience! I love it!

Also re your comment on size – being small is actually a huge advantage here. Change can happen quickly and it is easy to carve out a niche and become known for something.