15 July 2011
When it comes to promoting the country, its innovations, its people, its ethos of ubuntu and its economic sustainability, the role of ambassador belongs to all South Africans, says International Marketing Council CEO Miller Matola.
Matola was speaking at an International Marketing Council (IMC) stakeholder summit at Durban’s International Convention Centre on Thursday.
The IMC is responsible for the South African brand. It works on transforming the country’s image by developing and marketing strategies that invite the rest of the world to experience South Africa through either tourism or business ventures.
According to the IMC, A nation’s brand determines to a large extent how well a country competes for its share of investors, consumers and visitors in a global economy.
Matola told the gathering of government, business and civil society delegates that South Africa had been written off several times in the past, but had always managed to prove its critics wrong.
‘We are a solution-orientated country’
“We always see possibilities in everything … We are a solution-orientated country and a key player in global institutions, this is what we need to be selling.”
Matola said South Africa was being recognised for its increasing critical role in the fast changing global governance landscape with its membership of the BRICS group of influential emerging economies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and UN Secretary Council.
“People have faith in South Africa, and it is time we started to do the same,” Matola said. “We need to understand our country and how it works before saying negative things about it.”
Thabo Mhlongo, an IMC board member, told delegates at the summit that the emergence of the BRICS nations “puts South Africa at the cutting edge of a new global paradigm, which could help reach consensus on key issues such as trade, poverty reduction, the global financial system and the growing tensions around limited resources.”
Monitoring the South African brand
The IMC explained to delegates that the South African brand is monitored in several ways, with focus placed on people, exports, tourism, governance and investment and integration.
The IMC conducts a regular “domestic perceptions audit” to find out how South Africans feel about their country, monitors what the global media is saying about the country using a “reputation industry” tool, and uses an international tracker to see where elite businesses worldwide are choosing to invest.
The IMC aims to place South Africa in the Top 20 nation brands by 2020.
“In order to give South Africa a global pole position, Brand South Africa counts on each of you to share and deliver on the promise of disseminating the good news about South Africa to all South Africans and the world at large,” Matola said.
Play Your Part campaign
On Wednesday, the IMC has added its voice to the Mandela Day drive for civic participation with the launch of Play Your Part, a campaign designed to get all South Africans doing something, whether big or small, to contribute to a better future for all.
To join the movement, people can visit www.playyourpart.co.za, which connects to forgood, a home-grown social network that brings people and groups together for positive change.
MEC for Economic Development in KwaZulu-Natal, Mike Mabuyakhulu, said South Africans had to avoid becoming prisoners of their own perceptions.
Mabuyakhulu noted that International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge last week praised the country for its warmth and hospitality after it successfully hosted the 123rd IOC Session.
Rogge, taken in by the beauty of the country, was also impressed with the organisation of the mammoth event.
Mabuyakhulu said that the government, civil society, business, the media and ordinary South Africans all needed to join forces to strengthen the South African brand.