Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1291, (14 - 20 April 2016)
Tuesday,25 September, 2018
Issue 1291, (14 - 20 April 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Rebranding Egypt

Stefan Weichert talks to Kenneth W Cato, the chairman of an Australian branding company, on how Egypt should be promoted as a tourist destination

Al-Ahram Weekly

An international marketing campaign aimed at attracting more tourists to Egypt was originally planned to kick off in November last year, but was put on hold after a series of events that impacted the tourism industry.

Al-Ahram Weekly spoke to Kenneth W Cato, chair of the Australian branding company Cato Brand Partners. The firm has offices in Iran, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Pakistan, and markets companies in more than 100 countries around the world.


Would now be a good time for Egypt to start a new marketing campaign to promote tourism, taking into account recent negative events?

You can’t change what has already happened. That is beyond the control of governments. What becomes important is how you react, so you build the type of nation that you are. For example, France brought a lot of good things out after the terrorist attacks there last year, even though it was a terrible situation. Simply because they handled it well, I feel safe enough to go to France because they showed that they care.

Of course, there will always be times that are better than others to do a campaign. But the reality is that when something really bad happens it puts you on the map. At that point, it is time to try to build some value about the brand, but it has to be real and cannot be a patch-up to cover up terrorist activity. It is a challenge, but bad situations can give good results in the longer term.


Should the Egyptian government tell people the country is safe?

No, it’s not a good idea to launch a campaign saying the country is safe. It indicates that maybe it is not safe. For example, if I told you to come to Australia because it is safe by saying, “Now we are safe, come and visit us,” you might immediately think, why would Australia need to tell me this? Instead, you should tell me to come because of all the wonderful food and other stuff in Australia.

With bad news, you will have to tell me something else because if I only get the bad news I will be terrified to come. Tell me some good stuff. Not why the country is safe, because that is defensive. Give me the bigger message. Let me know that it is a nice country where I can invest my money or have a nice holiday. Give me something to believe in.


What kind of story should Egypt tell?

It is not going to happen overnight. If you need tourism right now, you should have planned things a long time ago. There is no quick campaign that can attract people. Instead, you should look at your country and see what it has and what people know about it. I think that in this case it is about reestablishing the brand.

In school, I had a romantic vision of Egypt from books. It was the River Nile, the Pyramids and so on. It was an exotic place, and it doesn’t have to cease being that because of terrorist attacks.

For example, New York is still a great place for many people to visit, even though they had the attacks there in 2001. The value of New York in people’s minds is extremely high. So you have two jobs if you want to get tourists back to Egypt. It is a campaign job, but I doubt that this will fix things. You need to rebuild the brand and what it represents. You need to tell people they are buying into a dream and redefine what that is.

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