I know Portugal won the Eurovision Song Contest, but Sweden won the Eurovision. As I am obsessed (not only with Eurovision but also) with nation branding and perception, I look at the results from a branding perspective. And I will argue that Sweden – not Portugal, not even the host country Ukraine – won the Eurovision.
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.
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.
In my second post on the Place Brand Observer, I looked at place branding as an academic discipline. I was quite glad to see that the post already generated some discussion on the Observer’s Facebook Page. In the post, I also present my views on what it means to be (or not to be) a discipline. You can access the full blog post here.
As of last month, I started contributing to the Place Brand Observer as an Academic Observer. Basically, this is a sixth month journey during which I will blog about current research trends in the field of place branding.
My first post was on my favorite topic: measurement. I am amazed by how little we know about place brand measurement (-actually any kind of strategic communication measurement). More often than not, our ignorance is caused by the fact that we are not sure what we should be measuring.
Technically social sciences present us a multitude (myriad?) of tools to measure anything we want from public opinion to policy performance. Yet, within the complex structure of social life and communication – in this specific example place branding – it is difficult to isolate the impacts of what we are intentionally doing. Let me present a basic example. Even if we decide place brands mean the associations that come to people’s minds when a place is named, how can we be sure that these associations are the results of our communication (branding) campaigns? These perceptions might be caused by personal experiences, influenced by friends, or completely changed by news.
I wrote about my views on how we can create a better measurement system in my post. You can find the full-text of the post at this link (redirects you to PlaceBrandObserver.com, a free website).
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.
Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index published its 2014 results a couple of days ago. I guess it is that time of the year that scholars start sharing their views on the issue. Nick Cull recently did so on CPD Blog, and let me chime in as well.
This year’s report backs up my two biggest concerns about the index:
1- Are we measuring perception or performance (or exposure)?
2- What do the rankings actually mean?
As Ahmet Davutoglu mentioned, the Gezi Park protests have an impact on Turkish reputation in the international arena (link in Turkish). But as the debunked urban legend goes, the Chinese word for crisis includes two characters: one for danger, another for opportunity. This post argues that the Turkish state has failed to use the Gezi Park protests to boost its image. Yet, it is not too late. Turkey can still use these protests as a way to increase its reputation as a strong modern capable state.
Last Saturday, countries from across the European continent came together for the 58th time, for the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest in Malmö, Sweden….but not Turkey!
Turkey explicitly expressed its concerns about the fairness of the contest – a concern that has not been voiced by any other country before. Therefore, Turkish decision is indeed a symbolic action that has implications for its reputation (or brand) as part of the European society.
As seen in the video above, it is quite difficult to take Eurovision seriously and discuss its fairness. But Turkey did it. What was Turkey thinking?
Around two years ago, (and I cannot believe it has been two years already!), I tried to outline the obstacles and challenges for Turkish public diplomacy. During the last two years, several think-tanks, non-government organizations, as well a governmental institutions started working on understanding, discussing, and implementing the concept of public diplomacy in the Turkish political scene. Based on what I learned during my own public diplomacy practice, and my studies, I have a couple of recommendations to ensure Turkish public diplomacy is built on strong grounds.