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DIPLOMACY ДИПЛОМАЦИЯ

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NATION BRANDING EFFORTS

NATION BRANDING EFFORTS OF POST-SOCIALIST COUNTRIES... national airlines, airports, shipping docks, emerging tourist industry, and by many other business partners (Brand Estonia, 2016). The brand Estonia combines good communication, branding strategies and multilevel engagement, but also offers the substance (Anholt, 2007) behind them. The setting of Estonian e-government, free public Wi-Fi connection, and sustainable green politics give the brand the real dimensions of social transformation and make the love-the-brand experience authentic. The nation branding of Estonia had several cornerstone events that stimulated the campaign – the hosting of Eurovision in 2002, the choice of Tallinn for European Capital of Culture for 2011, and the entry in the Eurozone during in the same year. Once the transition of the country to a new modern society was judged complete and the slogan Positively Transforming – already outdated, the country’s motto changed to Positively surprising, and the name Estonia consequently started to be presented in domestic and international media as E-stonia. Estonian official logo and slogan The ongoing campaign is dedicated to the 100 th anniversary of Estonia in 2018, the year when Estonia was supposed to preside the Council of the European Union (after Brexit the Estonian Presidency was moved to 2017). In the occasion, the government’s Development fund launched the initiative EST_IT@2018 – an Information Technologies project that aims at bringing wealth and growth in financial services, education, ITC security, manufacturing, energy supply and efficiency, and health care (Estonian Development Fund, 2015). Bulgaria – the social branding initiative As the other CEE post-communist countries, Bulgaria embraced the idea of nation branding as a promotional tool of a modern image. Branding was largely seen as a means for modernization, marketization and mediatization of the county. Unfortunately, unlike Slovenia, Poland and Estonia, Bulgarian branding efforts got somehow lost in bureaucracy, lack of strategic stakeholder engagement and of constantly interrupted legacy (Kaneva, 2011). In 2001 Bulgaria made her first steps as a brand in the globalized media environment during the Europalia – an international art festival. Due to political instability and governmental changes in the country, the presentation of Bulgaria did not manage to engage all of the important stakeholders and stayed focused on Bulgarian art and culture without the participation DIPLOMACY 18/2016 131

NATION BRANDING EFFORTS OF POST-SOCIALIST COUNTRIES... of business organizations and investors. Since 2001, two branding initiatives took place in Bulgaria – the Brand Bulgaria and the Promote Bulgaria, which despite the close entitlement did not have a lot in common. The British Council originated the first campaign with a main objective to promote the U.K. in Bulgaria. Eventually, the leading concept turned to mutuality and exchange of ideas between the two countries. The project engaged a variety of working groups composed of official representatives, business executives, NGOs, academics and students, media, designers, and PR and advertising professionals; and several workshops presided by leading European nation branding specialists. Studies were conducted on the perception of Bulgarians of their country, their perception of Western Europe, and the opinion of Western Europeans on Bulgaria. As an outcome postcards with a slogan Where on Earth is Bulgaria? were distributed in English schools and universities aiming at placing Bulgaria as a wishful destination for alternative and non-organized touristic activities. Due to small budget, the campaign ran in a short and smallscaled manner. The second campaign was administrated in 2004 and 2005 by the Ministry of Economy with the participation of other governmental actors. As a result, the Bulgarian rose was chosen as a national symbol and a logo has been selected. Nadia Kaneva, an Associate Professor in the Department of Media, Film, and Journalism Studies at the University of Denver, specialized in post-communist nation branding, opts that the branding process of Bulgaria was caught in the conflict between its misinterpreted elitist nature and the right of every Bulgarian to participate in the process. Since then, nation branding in Bulgaria has been a secondary priority. Although Bulgarian official branding efforts are sporadic, several public-based publiccentered initiatives have emerged and have managed to offer a vision of the Bulgarian brand, using common tools and communication channels. Like.Bulgaria is a Facebook page in English with more than 40,000 likes (the official fanpage of Bulgaria managed by the Ministry of Tourism has 18,300 likes) targeting foreigner audiences but also attracting engagement from Bulgarians. The slogan of the page is Our brand is a story. A story about you, not the brand. The page offers an indie branding initiative, giving a new point of view on Bulgarian history, culture, art and nature, using minimalistic modern design and visually catchy logo. Like.Bulgaria There are two more active Facebook fanpages of Bulgaria, targeting Bulgarian people in order to create a sense of appurtenance to culture and the characteristics of the nation. The first one – Българùя (40,000 likes) focuses on Bulgarian language specialties with sense of humor and some irony, the second one – България/@Bulgarian.people (278,000 likes) unites 132 ДИПЛОМАЦИЯ 18/2016

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