Unfair criticisms

As the Chairman of the Re-branding Committee for Grenada and Chair of Ogilvy’s Caribbean arm, I feel obliged to reply to Mr Catling’s comments on the recent Ministry of Tourism rebranding of our tourism offering.

I managed to track down Mr Catling before his letter appeared which made for an interesting conversation. He admitted that he had written the letter without actually having seen the new identity, which one would think, puts him at something of a disadvantage when passing comment on it in a public forum.

I also discovered that Mr Catling has no experience in branding or rebranding nations, nor marketing expertise of any kind. Not that he isn’t entitled to his opinions, of course, but as an ex-journalist it is unfortunate that he failed to comply with the first rule of journalism and check his facts first.

For your information Mr Catling, the rebranding was led by Inglefield/Ogilvy & Mather Caribbean Ltd, the Caribbean arm of Ogilvy Worldwide, and incidentally with no payment from the Government – and all my personal input over many months was done entirely pro bono.

Experience, of course, isn’t everything in life but it does perhaps provide some confidence that we know a little about what we are doing. Ogilvy has undertaken inward investment/ rebranding projects in South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Puerto Rico, The Bahamas, Jersey, Switzerland, France, and more.

Having been voted Agency Network of the Year for the second year running, finding another company with our credentials to ‘start again’ as Mr Catling suggests might prove more difficult than he thinks.

Inward investment in the form of more visitors is what this is all about. Had Mr Catling actually seen the identity he would know that we are not abandoning our spice heritage at all. The icon – the only icon on the new identity, so it can hardly be missed – is still a nutmeg, rendered beautifully in the style of an Amerindian design.

Yes, Mr Catling, we are strong believers in being proud of one’s heritage. Many of the headlines and all of the copy in the advertising collateral we have created refers to ‘The Spice Isle’ or ‘Isle of Spice’. A headline which reads “Welcome to the Spice Isle’ can hardly be accused of abandoning our heritage.

However, what ‘Pure Grenada’ does is augment our heritage with a benefit-based positioning. Ogilvy’s philosophy is to always talk to the core benefit of any brand.

I take issue with Mr Catling’s comment that visitors come here because we produce spices. Really? You think when they are sitting looking at the snow from the window of their New York apartment and dreaming of a holiday destination, they put at the head of their wish list Grenada… because it produces spices?

As I said, we should be proud of our heritage, we have kept the spice at the heart of the rebranding because of the recognition coefficient, but let’s not fool ourselves that spices are a key motivator to visitors in selecting a holiday destination.

However, telling a visitor that our island is Pure in a single word tells you (if you know nothing else) what it probably is… unspoiled, authentic, beautiful, safe, natural, clean, etc and what it probably isn’t… overcrowded, noisy, full of casinos, restaurant chains and skyscrapers etc. Not bad for one word.

Incidentally, Ogilvy did not come up with the word Pure. Ogilvy, through the Rebranding Committee simply adopted it with huge enthusiasm. The rebranding was a very inclusive process involving workshops and consultations over many months here on the island.

‘Pure’ was the descriptor given by a young boy at Father Mulligan’s home in St Patrick’s when he was asked (as part of the consultative process) to describe his nation in one word. Rather sad to think that Mr Catling thinks he is helping the nation (he professes to love) get back on its feet and encourage tourism by sitting on the sidelines sniping at the dream of a young boy who, whether Mr Catling likes it or not, sees his homeland as Pure.

Our duty to him and the rest of his generation is to ensure we realise his dream, not trample on it.

Russ Garman Price

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