MANAGING Brand Jamaica is clearly not the easiest job in the world. We are a curious people -- enigmaTIC even. Rambunctious, friendly, and according to the Happy Planet Index, this year we ranked sixth (right behind El Salvador) on the list of happiest countries in the world. We have produced some of the swiftest sprinters on the globe and in the creative arts we have a worldwide reach as no matter where you go everyone knows about reggae music and of Bob Marley in particular.
On the other hand, our name is also to be found on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's 2012 (UNODC's) list of countries of high homicide rate. In Jamaica you will find a church within a few short steps of a wayside bar. Jamaica, in fact, has the most "churches" per square mile than any country in the world. (Source: Guinness Book of World Records). As a people, we are "a riddle wrapped up in mystery inside an enigma" and so it might be a tad challenging for any organisation or person who might have to communicate Brand Jamaica to the world.
Earlier this month — with our athletes' successes in London the venue of the Games of the XXX Olympiad it proved to be the perfect melting pot with the ideal temperature to unleash the positives of Brand Jamaica, as well as to highlight the celebration of the nation's 50th anniversary. JAMPRO — Jamaica's investment and export promotion agency — established in 1988 to stimulate, facilitate, and promote the development of trade and industry, and export and investment activities in all sectors of the island's economy — had the mammoth task to communicate the country's brand to the world.
"For ten days, between August 3-12, we had an excellent space to parade Brand Jamaica before the eyes of the world. Our national colours and our products had maximum attention from the thousands of persons who streamed through the event. It is not likely that we will ever get another opportunity for exposure as we did this month," says JAMPRO's Corporate and Communications Manager Mark Thomas.
The centrepiece of the strategy was 'Jamaica House' 2012 — a hospitality house and the country branding initiative organised by JAMPRO, the Jamaica Tourist Board in collaboration with the Jamaica 50 Secretariat, premised upon projecting the attributes of Brand Jamaica. Jamaica House was one of several national houses and other countries which utilised the strategy to project their country's brand included, USA and Russia (located in Hyde Park, they faced each other); Switzerland and Taiwan, among others also had hospitality houses.
The concept of the Olympics' National Hospitality Houses was to provide a venue for entertaining athletes, VIPs and members of the public, and to host exhibitions as well as other events. Jamaica House was located in south east London in the Northern Greenwich arena, a few minutes away from the Olympic Park which was a major venue for basketball and gymnastics. This put the country's brand within the eyes and ears of an average of several thousand persons from across the world each day who passed through the venue each day, says Thomas. The House, which was opened from 4:00 pm to the public each afternoon, accommodated one thousand persons. JAMPRO utilised the early evenings at the House for business sessions with persons in the Diaspora and international investors in the key sectors of manufacturing, ICT and Tourism.
Managing media attention for the Jamaican brand was also a dream come through as the country rode on the crests of the wave of the feel-good high as a result of the gold medalling of our athletes. JAMPRO was in fact successful in convincing the BBC's editors and producers to broadcast live from Jamaica House on August 6, Independence Day, via the BBC World News Service, on the hour every hour, for 8 hours. Additionally, the BBC also confirmed their interest in covering the Brixton Splash event on August 5. Presenter for the historic BBC broadcast from Jamaica House was well known BBC journalist David Eades, who conducted seven interviews in 10-minute segments on the hour, every hour, that was transmitted to a global audience of over 300 million. Securing the BBC coverage of Jamaica House by the BBC World News was reported by JAMPRO to be unprecedented as none of the other national houses at the Olympics managed this feat. Of course, we at home had the privilege of tuning in to our morning shows to hear some familiar voices and programming as local stations also used the opportunity to broadcast from the centre of the action in London.
Now that the dust has settled from the Olympics and life is returning to normal, only time and ardent follow-up will reveal the tangible benefits and returns on investments from the strategy used here to brand Jamaica to the world.
Yvonne Grinam-Nicholson, (MBA, ABC) is a Business Communications Consultant with RO Communications Jamaica, specializing in business communications and financial publications. She can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit her website at www.rocommunications.com and post your comments.