Remember when Korea was seen as simply a mass electronics manufacturer? Well yes, it still is seen that way, but now it is also seen as a pop culture hub. All thanks to a country’s president who understood the importance of brand positioning.
Although to be clear, countries often do not have the reigns over how they are perceived as a tourist destination. That is a large part of why trying to market a country is an incredibly difficult task. Many tourists would not hear Seoul and think “find your soul in Seoul” just as tourists hearing New Zealand wouldn’t think “100% pure New Zealand.” Perceptions of countries are more likely to be influenced by popular culture and various forms of entertainment, rather than multimillion dollar branding strategies.
The old president of South Korea Kim Dae-Jung decided that entertainment, rather than manufacturing, was key to the country’s survival. Following this decision was the Korean Wave where South Korean pop culture was exported around the world. This “Korean wave” has raked in an excess of 5 trillion as of 2010. has The most recent example of this was a concert in Los Angeles featuring South Korean artists. LA fans would have been blissfully unaware that the concert they attended was not just a show, but also crafty international marketing.
So when faced with the mammoth task of marketing a country, catchy slogans will only work to an extent. Just like any commercial marketer would do, large scale tourism marketers need to step back and look at their country as a product. Only then can they zone in on points of difference and focus on how to export these.