I have long commented this idea in different forums, the last time in a radio program on “Gestiona Radio”, on the past 14 February 2011.
It is well-known and can easily be seen that people get an image of brands, products, countries, people, etc. The question is therefore whether we can influence to create a positive image of the brand, social group, country or product we are interested in, or whether we can change it if the established image harms us. All communication professionals know that both things are possible.
As agr! has a division specialised in internationalising brands, we have seen that in many cases the image of Spain is a brake on our work and objectives and that this is very often due to clichés that fail to correspond to the truth or show a clamorous ignorance of our present reality. Having considered all of this, I thought of the need to create an international “Permanent network observatory of the image of Spain” that would permanently take the pulse of our image abroad and keep it always visible and positive.
I do not like to see how generally Spanish oil is cheaper than Italian simply because it is Spanish or a French wine is more expensive than a Spanish because it is French. I believe that it is time to put everything in its place and that our companies, when they export, should find support in the Spain brand and not an impediment. For this to happen we have to be united and receive the support of the public administrations.
My suggested action is the following:
Firstly, to determine the countries of interest for Spain and to segment them with economic, political, commercial criteria, etc.
Secondly, in Agr! or any company with an international network, I would create a work group whose mission would be to take the pulse of the image of Spain in each country and, at the same time, to maintain a high notoriety and a positive image. I would therefore begin by making a study of the starting point in the notoriety and image of Spain in each country, how the Spaniards are perceived, their products and services, what clichés they have, what knowledge, etc., all among the different segments of population of each target country: journalists, consumers, politicians, the young, business people, etc… I would also compile existing studies.
Thirdly, starting with the results of the above study for each country, I would set specific targets and strategies of action while creating two action groups: one of fast action and the other “in-depth”.
The first would work immediately before any problem that might affect our image. For example, there is the problem of the cucumber and after just a few minutes a crisis cabinet would already have been formed to control what appears on the net and, through its relationship with the media, might be capable of transmitting the idea that the accusations lack a basis.
Meanwhile, the in-depth team would be preparing to turn the situation around and see the problem as an opportunity to position Spain as the safest producer of fruit and vegetables in the world, as it is the leading supplier of these products to the most demanding European countries and food chains.
In the past, Agr! already proposed this repositioning to the fruit and vegetable sector. Furthermore, on two occasions we have very successfully solved similar problems for the pepper from Hortyfruta in Almería, and for strawberries from Interfresa in Huelva.
In order to draw up the strategies for each country, it is necessary to bear in mind all of the elements that facilitate or enhance our strengths and opportunities. For example, many of the countries that form part of the Business Council for Competitiveness are large investors in advertising in target countries, and those responsible for the Observatory in each country should know this and exploit it in the form of articles, reports, etc.
We must not forget either that at the present time we have a large number of popular figures in the international arena, moving in different areas and that there are also many anonymous Spaniards around the world who would be delighted to take part.
My advice would be to state in what we are leaders, where we are unique or better, in the environment of any facet or field and to use these data suitably to reposition our image. We have a lot to say: we are leaders in tourism, in organ donations, in wind power…, apart from being so in generosity, knowing how to enjoy life, in gastronomy, etc.
Fourthly, I would try to reach a single, strong concept of Spain and other secondary concepts with a real base. I would agree on these concepts with the different administrations so that they might all work along the same line. I would perform a pre-test of all of these concepts and we would get to work right away, for an omnipresent image of “Spain” that is strong, well-selected and managed is sure to have a decisive influence on the choices and the price that millions of consumers around the world are willing to pay, and on the decisions and opinions of politicians, analysts and foreign journalists.
And fifthly, I would ensure that the Network Observatory is managed by professionals of private companies. A single company, internationally established, by tender and for four years. The embassies, tourist offices, Instituto Cervantes, etc. would play a constant role of collaboration stipulated by the government of Spain.