” If you’re a country at war and you’re getting gigantic amounts of bad media, basically you are stuck. That’s billions and billions of dollars in negative publicity; how can you fight against that?” So says Simon Anhalt, country branding guru. But he is only half right. “Iraq” has negative publicity. “Mesopotamia” doesn’t. In fact, the more I look at the Code of Hammurabi, the more I get filled with ideas of great publicity campaigns. This is the cradle of civilization, the place that started it all.
There are plenty reasons why branding a country is nothing like branding a product. A pretty good summary here points out how much more complicated and long term an effort is required. And here’s a good case study on destination branding. But you don’t need a decade and multiparty support to change the name. And one good, globally successful advertising campaign could redefine how the country sees itself forever.
Iraq, I mean Mesopotamia, started it all. A human sized stone stele in every city defined the very first set of laws, what Justinian and English law later followed. It defined a minimum wage before unions, slave rights millenniums before Americans struggled with the idea, women’s rights and a framework for free market operation which would put a G8 gathering to shame. Nation branding is correct to point out all the positive aspects of the situation, there is a real opportunity for this much battered part of the world.
While Hummer jeeps still drive up the wrong side of the road in Baghdad, there’s some food for thought.
I’m Mesopotamian and I’m proud!