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.