marketing recommendations, one must first point out towards the fact that Romania (1) lacks a true branding campaign, such as the ones that Spain, Finland or even Bulgaria have undergone during the past years and (2) because it has no branding policies to promote its values abroad and make positive connections in foreigners' minds with Romania, the first things that a foreigner will be able to say about Romania are related to thieves, Ceausescu or the stray dogs in Bucharest.
This report will aim at discovering some of the positive elements that Romania has to offer and the adequate means by which these elements can be promoted to the audience we are addressing. The report contains two essential parts: image and branding recommendations, where positive elements about Romania are listed and analyzed, while the marketing approaches describe the channel of communication to be used in order to be able to market these to the targeted segment of consumers.
Image and branding recommendations
Starting with the latter, the best example in this sense is Bucharest. Cliche associations that come to mind are "the stray dogs, the stupid architecture, the Pyongyang comparisons, the metro stations without any signs, the fact that few of its own citizens, when asked for directions, can give accurate information"
. On the other hand, Bucharest ha wonderful parks and gardens, as well as excellent food at reasonable prices, savoured with good quality local wine and a decent nightlife. As in any marketing scheme, these are actually the qualities that should be brought forward, while trying to overshadow those that you are not content with. This will be further discussed when referring to the actual marketing approaches.
Moving to the subsequent level, the Romanian authorities have not yet succeeded to change the image the foreigners tend to have of Romania. Unfortunately, foreigners seem to be divided into two separate categories in this case. The first category mistakes Bucharest for Budapest (it's somewhere in the same area and they sound so alike, don't they?), occasionally place Romania somewhere in the Middle East or maybe even in Africa and have no clue of any other element related to Romania.
This is definitely a brand problem. For example, some countries managed to achieve a notoriety that is often related only to the name. Finland, for example, is the country of the 20,000 lakes. Denmark is the always green one and the examples can continue in this sense. On the other hand, the government of these countries have invested important sums of money at an institutional level in order to achieve these performances.
The second category mentioned, and these are generally geographically located in Europe, are those that tend to associate Romania with extremely negative image elements. First of all, the Romania's adherence to the Schengen Area, not to mention the future adherence to the European Union in 2007, have brought forth a large number of immigrants to Western countries, immigrants that often do not find themselves on the right part of the law. The problem and impact on Romania's image is not necessarily impacted only by these individuals, but the fact that their actions are those that always come forward. It is almost like someone is leading an antibranding campaign aimed at discrediting Romania and its citizens.
The response to the two categories previously mentioned resides in a series of branding steps to be followed. First of all, there is the necessity to discover a series of elements in connection to Romania, elements that can create a positive image for the country and induce people to visit it, eager to find out more than what they have heard. Second of all, there needs to be a process of promoting these values and elements to the world and third of all, a specific campaign needs to be led in order to counteract the negative image formed.
So, first of all, one needs to refer to positive elements that can constitute themselves as the best responses and base to a branding campaign. What does Romania have to offer to the world? Very hospitable individuals- here is something that has been mentioned around the world, although not too a level of interest high enough. This is actually a fact and one does not need to refer necessarily to Bucharest where, it is true, some people may not know how to give directions to a certain point, but they can certainly try their best and the visitor is always likely to see the person he initially asked for directions asking someone else in the street. In the countryside it is even more so. If one travels in the countryside and night falls, it is extremely likely that people will be keen to take you in and feed you in the evening, often with a low charge. These Christian traditions, according to which you must always show responsibility, especially to a person in need, have remained very strong in the peasant society (and Romania is considered to be a still religious country).
The citizens of Romania have also been deemed to be quite intelligent. The examples in history can start with assimilated French writers such as Emil Cioran or Mircea Eliade, who spent most of their youth writing and creating in Romania, before the Communist regime came to power. Inventors such as Henri Coanda have enjoyed international success. On the other hand, for the present time, perhaps the best and most notorious example is of a Math team from Princeton, formed exclusively from Romanian individuals, who managed to win an interuniversity Math tournament. The positive cliche with the intelligent Romanians has unfortunately not been used enough by Romania, but, as previously shown, it has been plentifully used by other nations, keen to assimilate national values.
Romanians also have a sense of humour, cultivated both in the traditional, poplar register, but also during the Communist period, when the joked with Ceausescu made life easier. Great storytellers, Romanians are known to make a party enjoyable with their jokes and anecdotes. On the other hand, this is not something very much known, as everybody heard of Hans Christian Andersen, but nobody has really heard of Ion Creanga.
These were general elements on the Romanian people to be included in a brand and image campaign. Referring to some of the cultural and historical elements with which Romania can be identified, first of all there is the Dracula symbol. No matter what the historical misconceptions that exist on this subject, one needs to admit that this is a subject that sells and a symbol that can be used in such a campaign. Of course, some individuals tend to associate it with a negative perception, but the mystery involved and the aura that some attribute to Dracula is not to be neglected. Anyhow, the Bran Castle, where the Count is supposed to have lived (of course, he never actually set foot in the castle, but Bram Stoker said he did ... ), could become a centre of the entire Dracula legend, something like Assisi for St. Francis, but in a different register. Nevertheless, this is certainly not done: the prices for an adult entry into the Bran Castle range around $3. Besides some timid local peasant sellers of different traditional objects in the castle's court, one can see no extensive marketing of an image that could bring important revenues.
Second of all, we have the different sport figures that foreigners sometimes are familiar with: Hagi was an excellent football player, Nadia Comaneci was a great gymnast. These are positive image elements that can be used in a branding campaign. They show the tenacity and capacity to work for results of Romanian individuals and can bring on the message "there are also these kind of Romanians."
Third of all, we have some punctual elements to be considered. Good food, good palinka and wine, beautiful girls etc. These elements can be included in an extended branding and imaging campaign.
Having established the main elements that could be reached in a branding campaign, the paper needs to continue by identifying the relevant means and channels of communication that will be able to carry the message across to the receptors. There are two main categories of receptors one needs to refer to: the business community and the possible tourist individuals. The business community, from a country branding point-of-view can be reached with the intellectual element previously mentioned. Romanian represent cheap and qualified workforce. You can pay an excellent programmer here $500 a month, $6,000 a year for him to produce things that would cost $70,000 a year in the United States.
Promoting such economic values should probably be the mission of the Romanian government, as an entity and through the economic missions it has in the world. Additionally, international fairs can be used to promote such values. On the other hand, the written press is often an efficient channel of communication, especially the economic press in this case. A paid article on…