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DIPLOMACY ДИПЛОМАЦИЯ

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NATION BRANDING EFFORTS

NATION BRANDING EFFORTS OF POST-SOCIALIST COUNTRIES... The action was organized by the Polish Tourist Organization in Paris and was composed of posters of a good-looking young Pole dressed up as a plumber saying Je reste au Pologne, venez nombreux! (In translation: I’m staying in Poland, come along!); and a poster of an attractive Polish nurse suggesting I’m waiting for you. This quick-minded and humoristic reply, implying that Polish workforce is benevolent and not willing to invade Western Europe, opened space for dialogue with European governments and international media and attributed to the brand of Poland wide international coverage. Polish branders had the chance to present the country in the light of creativity and individualism, which later on became a label for its people. The campaign used humor – one of the strongest weapons to fight social stigma. The nation branding campaign that followed (produced under the services of Wally Olins) was entitled Creative tension and developed furthermore the image of Poland as a creative, open and resilient nation. Pawel Surowiec (2012) determines the three main axes of Polish identity definition: Individualism – signifying this trait of Polishness as an attractive feature for investors and tourists; Work in progress – defining Poland as a growing, expanding state, which, thanks to the dreams and aspirations of Poles, can be leveraged into investor relations, and, on the other hand, the liveliness, trendiness and buzz has the potential to be memorable for its visitors; Creative tension – standing for the alleged polarity of Polish national traits: “Poland is part of the West and also understands the East, Poles are passionate and idealistic and also practical and resourceful, the Polish character is ambitious and down to earth.” The branding campaign managed to unite various stakeholders who worked together to impregnate the Polish national identity and its values in diverse governmental, nongovernmental and business sectors. Simultaneously, Poland continued its public diplomacy and branding efforts through different initiatives – The Polska Year was a cultural diplomacy initiative targeting Great Britain, which took place in 26 British cities and presented a part of Polish culture and art to the British public. Moreover, Poland positioned itself as an international broadcaster through the radio Racja and the television Belsat TV aired in neo-authoritarian Belarus as an attempt to provide uncensored information sources and promote diplomacy. In December 2010 Belsat reached up DIPLOMACY 18/2016 129

NATION BRANDING EFFORTS OF POST-SOCIALIST COUNTRIES... to 23% of Belarusian society through satellites (Ociepka, 2014). The state enhanced further its engagement in development aid and democracy advancement in North Africa and Afghanistan; also, Poland became part of international and transnational networks providing expertise on the European Neighborhood Policy and the Eastern Partnership. The Polish Presidency of the EU Council in 2012 was part from the momentum of Polish branding efforts. The Polish identity was presented with a variety of symbolic actions that took place together with a clear strategy and actual substance, joining in the stable three-legged stool of branding, in Anholt’s terms. For instance, Jerzy Janiszewski, who also was the creator of the Solidarity logo that served as a symbol of the first independent Polish trade union before 1989 and the first semi-free elections in Poland after the fall of the communist regime delivered the logo of the Presidency – a symbolical action aiming at pointing out the start of a new stage of development for the country. Also, Polish people were closely engaged in branding actions – an example of this live-the-brand strategy was the encouragement of Warsaw citizens to embellish their gardens, balconies and other suitable places with flowers and decorations in the colors of the Polish flag and the Presidency. Public spaces in some Polish cities were also transformed with renovated venues dedicated to the Presidency, as a manifestation of a renewed self-presentation in the everyday life. Many creative partnerships with technological giants such as Google marked up the Presidency, and demonstrated the will of the Polish government to collaborate in a sustainable way with corporations and other stakeholders in order to create a unique and recognizable Polish identity. All those different but still coordinated branding actions led to a significant success for the Polish brand – in 2012, according to a special issue on nation brands, Poland scored a jump of 74 percent in a year, and reached a record brand value, winning a place among the twentieth most valuable nation brands. After the Polish Presidency, the image of the country encountered a significant amelioration: the message has passed through – Polish transition was over (Marini, 2011). Estonia – strategy and substance Although the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU has not taken place yet, it is interesting to explore Estonian brand strategies and the continuum in which the Presidency will occur. Estonia was the first post-communist country to elaborate and adopt a comprehensive and holistic approach to nation branding that helped the country strengthen its otherwise vague Baltic image and become one of the preferred business destinations in Europe (Brand Finance Journal, 2012). The campaign Welcome to Estonia started in 2002 and presented a huge branding success onwards – it managed to engage multiple governmental, non-governmental and business stakeholders, to create a distinct brand identity of the country and to present Estonian culture as progressive and innovative leader. The message of the campaign is Estonia, Positively Transforming, which incorporates several different slogans targeting diverse stakeholders: Nordic with a Twist, Ecological Heaven, and Structured for Tourism were the key messages in the destination branding of Estonia; the slogans draw a line between the common perception of Estonia as a Baltic country and position it closer to the Nordic community by underlining its quality reliability, flexibility, adaptability, competitiveness and innovations. The brand identity was adopted by the Estonian 130 ДИПЛОМАЦИЯ 18/2016

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