Another Analysis of Turkish Referendum: A New Turkish Brand?

As  my beloved home country, Turkey, has just voted “yes” on proposed constitutional changes that made current president Recep Tayyip Erdogan pretty much president until 2029* and gave him extensive powers that will (I guess) enable him to enact all the policies he did not have the resources to enact  – despite being in politics since 1983, an elected official from 1994 to 1998, and controlling the executive branch since 2002, controlling the executive branch with little to no opposition from the legislative branch since 2007, with little to no opposition from the judiciary branch since 2010.

But anyway, I digress. Where was I? Yes, Turkish brand. So, what will happen to the Turkish brand? Well, Turkish brand will both benefit from the results and be damaged, almost, beyond repair.

referendum

At least they can spell “referendum”

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Lose-lose deal in soft power: Turkey and the Netherlands

By now, most of us have heard about the tension between Turkey and the Netherlands (and for those who have not heard about it, CNN has a nice summary). As both countries are heading into elections, they once again showed us that the combination of “irrational voters” and “universal suffrage” might lead to really crazy rhetoric. I argue that this focus on “winning” the elections also influences how Turkey and the Netherlands portray the events in the international arena. And when everybody tries to win the game of soft power, everybody loses. Here is why and how:

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Repositioning Turkish Brand after the Coup Attempt

TURKEY-MILITARY-POLITICS-COUP

Image taken from Time magazine / AFP PHOTO / Bulent KILICBULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images

When I accepted to serve as Academic Observer for The Place Brand Observer, I created a list of topics for all my posts for the upcoming six months. For my fifth post, I was planning to write about partnerships between scholars/academic institutions and branding agencies. However, given the fact that I am living in Istanbul during really “interesting” times, I decided to discuss what academia has to offer to practitioners who want to brand cities, regions or countries in such turbulent times.

You can read the full post on the Place Brand Observer.

From Ferguson to Erdogan: (De)Branding through Acts

Two news articles have been occupying my social media feeds: Ferguson jury decision and Erdogan’s comments on gender equality. A grand jury decided not to indict the police officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed African American teenager, causing nation-wide protests. Erdogan decided to share his views on gender equality, once again, with the public in a Women and Justice summit. He said that “you cannot bring women and men into equal positions; that is against nature because their nature is different“. Both events got a large scale media coverage, causing domestic and international publics to question the ‘brand’ identities of the countries.

Ferguson, MO - August 11th (Image from Al Jazeera)

Ferguson, MO – August 11th (Image from Al Jazeera)

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This is the Turkish model, not the end of it

There is a Twitter ban in Turkey. A democratic country blocked access to the microblogging site, 10 days before the most important election of the decade! This move brings the question is whether the ban signals the end of the Turkish model – as a democratic country with a predominantly Muslim population – for the region or not. I say, this ban clearly shows what the Turkish model is. We think about Turkey as a country that combines the Western values with a different religious belief. I argue the model was always about using Western institutions to justify the influence of religion on society and politics. Here is how:

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“Shoot that blue bird”

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Branding at the time of Crisis Vol.2: Turkey and “Ergenekon”

*For those who don’t know about the Ergenekon case, here is the Wikipedia article, a really well-written report on the issue, and  a Q&A from Financial Times.

As of today, a local court came up with the verdict at the Ergenekon case. Several individuals, including a former Chief of Staff, various high ranking military officers, prominent intellectuals, and politicians were sentenced, some were sentenced to life in prison. Practically just like any other given aspect of Turkish life in the last decade or so, Ergenekon was a highly politicized issue and divided the population into “pro” and “against” camps.

The case has received quite a high level of international media attention, and therefore is likely to influence Turkey’s perception by the foreign audiences. I argue it would be naïve to expect a positive influence without any communicative intervention from Turkey. Besides, such an intervention is definitely not going to be easy.

This is what an open court looks like in Turkey – as portrayed by the international media (Image from Spiegel)

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“New” May 19th and the Turkish brand

After the Turkish government’s most recent attempts to redesign national commemoration day celebrations, and some encouragements from several colleagues, I decided to revisit an article I wrote on the ethics of place branding last year, entitled  “Thinking about Place Branding: Ethics of Concept“. I did so conceptually in Place Management and Branding blog.

I want to expand on the Turkish experience and my concerns about the “ethics” (as well as viability) of Turkey’s brand in this post.

Erdogan with his party's youth branch (From HDN)

Erdogan with his party’s youth branch (From HDN)

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