Ukraine Embarks on Nation Branding Campaign

By Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Partner, CFC Consulting

Engulfed in corruption and languishing at the bottom of the leading indexes measuring the ease of doing business and the economy’s competitiveness, Ukraine has launched a high-profile advertising campaign on CNN International and BBC World. A series of spots entitled Ukraine: All About U aims to raise awareness about the country, demonstrate Ukraine’s investment potential and lure tourists. This is the first time since independence the country has embarked on such an intensive marketing exercise.

The concept of the TV spot was designed jointly by CNN and CFC Consulting, a Kyiv-based strategic communications firm.  Late last year, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs commissioned CFC to develop a nation branding program. It resulted in a comprehensive document, which included the results of a survey about Ukraine’s image in the five largest EU countries, offered visual identity solutions, provided guidelines and ideas for advertising campaigns and recommended various projects for Ukraine’s promotion. The timeline of the program ranges between five and 10 years.  Thus, among the proposed slogans targeted mainly at investors, Ukraine: Moving in the Fast Lane, does not reflect a reality but is recommended for use at a later stage when Ukraine shows steady progress and tangible improvements in fighting corruption and overcoming other obstacles to doing business.

Among the recommended projects are the following initiatives: approaching Google to do a Google Street View for Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv and Donetsk on the eve of the European Football Championship in 2012; promote Ukraine as a shooting location for Hollywood movies; building a major museum of modern art, which can become a driver of Kyiv’s transformation and its economy as was the case with the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao; reaching out to the European elites in the key European cities of Brussels and Strasbourg by organizing a series of Ukrainian theme art events; launching a campaign entitled “Ukraine Inspires” about famous people from Ukraine or of Ukrainian origin such as music composer Mykola Leontovych, pop artist Andy Warhol, Kyiv-born Prime Minister Golda Meier of Israel, helicopter designer Igor Sikorsky and many others.

The national branding strategy, unveiled at the end of March by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, triggered a vibrant discussion among the Ukrainian public. One the most criticized elements was the two animated mascots named Sprytko and Harniunia, which the authors of the strategy recommended as souvenirs such as refrigerator magnets and key chains.

The long-term strategy, which cost the Ministry of Foreign Affairs $100,000, is already yielding results. The major accomplishment so far is the large scale promotion campaign on CNN and BBC World, which is sponsored by Ukraine Economic Reform Fund, a private foundation established recently in Ukraine to support economic reforms and promote Ukraine internationally.

Implementing a national branding strategy is a daunting task for Ukraine, which has a generally negative image overseas. Nevertheless, to do nothing is not an option. A vicious circle of “no-promotion-worldwide-because-everything-is-so-bad” needs to be broken and more rigorous effort needs to be mustered to raise awareness about Ukraine and communicate its ongoing positive changes.

Ukraine has many strong competitive advantages and its tremendous potential has to be communicated efficiently.  How Ukraine is perceived internationally has an enormous effect on the country’s attractiveness for investors, tourists and importers of Ukrainian products. If implemented properly, Ukraine’s nation branding program can become an engine of the country’s economic development.

Additionally, nation branding endeavors are generally expensive and require the involvement of professionals from all walks of life. Therefore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hopes to attract the support of both Ukrainian and foreign businesses, the Ukrainian diaspora, think tanks, NGOs and the art community, among others.

You can access the campaign’s web presence at (available in Ukrainian only).

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