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Brand South Africa – confusion in the market?
Monday, 28 March 2011

South Africa’s destination brand was in the spotlight recently following reports that the country’s International Marketing Council (IMC), as custodians of Brand South Africa, was to launch a new destination positioning for the country internationally, to replace the current ‘Alive with possibility’. Meanwhile SA Tourism continues to do its own tourism marketing job with the ‘It’s possible’ message.

Some operators Tourism Update spoke to felt the two different messages created confusion in the market. “They (the current slogans) seem similar but, yes, it can be confusing,” says Onne Vegter of Wild Wings Safaris.

“It’s crazy,” says Chris Moerdyk, a marketing analyst in Cape Town and Fellow of the Institute of Marketing Management. “It makes no marketing sense whatsoever for all these different messages to be aimed at the same target markets.”

Tshepo Nkosi, Communications Manager PR & Media for the IMC, says the two messages aren’t confusing. “The overall positioning for South Africa was ‘Alive with Possibility’. SA Tourism’s ‘It’s Possible’ was an interpretation of the country positioning for the tourism industry. So, no, we feel that these two pay-off lines work well and complement each other effectively.”

Some operators agree. Janine Southwood, sales manager USA for Thompsons Africa, says she believes the different messages aren’t confusing and can only help strengthen awareness in the market.

Vegter disagrees. “We need to have one brand image and one powerful and catchy slogan used by both Brand South Africa and by SA Tourism.”

Martin Wiest, ceo of Tourvest Destination Management, has a slightly different opinion. “In my view, we should have a common message from a common source.” He believes that source should be SA Tourism. It makes sense that any brand message going out to potential visitors should come from SA Tourism, say some operators.

But as Nkosi explains, the two organisations have different mandates when it comes to marketing the destination. “The IMC is mandated by government to build South Africa’s reputation in order to improve the country’s global competitiveness. SA Tourism, on the other hand, is the agency mandated to promote and market South Africa as a tourist destination.”

Nkosi adds that, as far as possible, the two agencies collaborate to market Brand SA and will ensure that programmes used to market the country – both from an investment and tourism perspective – are “synergetic”.

“Our task now is to ensure that we can find one positioning line that will encompass all the different facets of South Africa, including tourism, business investment as well as being a great place to live. This way, we will speak from the same page, without any need to interpret and re-engineer to suit separate target markets.”
Darren Sandras

The Editor

By : Tourism Update
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