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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tropical challenge

Living in a small island with circa 60k people you sometimes have to remember you are pretty much a pimple on the backside of the world.

However it is very easy to think that this reality is more pervasive than it really is.

At first I used to despair of young people leaving the island almost inevitably to never return. And it still is something of a concern.

But my concern is now more pragmatic.

Because of the nature of this island, like so many others, there is close to zero chance of a young man or woman, who isnt politically or class connected to make anything of their lives. Not that those circumstances even help them. It just gives them some breathing room.

Travelling and encountering a different reality gives young Dominicans a chance. And just a chance.

We are dealing with a situation where there is a poorly equipped public library, no cinema, a politically polarised media (and thats being generous to call them that), and almost no intellectual base for anyone to rely on. On top of that we do not have any sporting facilities of note. In 2011 we have young people trying to qualify for the Olympic Games on grass fields with chalk lines, and there is no indoor court for basketball or volleyball (or any other sport for that matter). When it rains, the sports stops.

Dont ask about entertainment.

You add in a party political system which is vindictive in punishing those who do not conform, and a hypocritical and yet strangely dogmatic interpretation of religion which is as literal as you could get in Medieval times, and well...we're screwed.

Well...unless you like that reality.

A couple of us are forming a small charity to try to build facilities to stimulate both mind and body locally.

We shall see if that will head off the storm of barbarism that threatens.

The flip side ? Its a beautiful Caribbean island and you can live naturally :-)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Junk everywhere

One of the biggest ironies of Dominica is that whilst the economy contracts, more and more people are importing food and inferior products and dumping it on our markets.

Many of the brands we are now getting to see are not brands you will see in first world markets. Not that brands are the be all and end all, but the standards of production and quality are often linked to the brand.

But again in Dominica , price is king, and by flooding the market with low cost product, the average local distributor is guaranteeing a market. The Dominican consumer is addicted to cheap, to the point where they will ignore waves of bad treatment to return to a retail outlet, on one promise only.

Its going to be cheap.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Defying common sense

A few years ago an external agency created the 'Defy the EVeryday' brand identity for Dominica. Part of the reason it failed so badly to capture the essence of what Dominica is, is because the agency didnt really know Dominica at all.

There is no hidden code in that commentary. Its just so. The two last agencies who did substantial work for Dominica were from New York and Miami, and the new PR agency is from Minnesota.

Dont get me wrong, most tourism accounts need agencies in foreign markets to target the demographies they need. At least 8 of our IN Network counterparts have major tourism accounts we can learn from and collaborate with.

However most tourism accounts also need a regional / local agency to help define what our countries are, back to those same agencies. Instead the local model in tourism is to consider the local agencies as grunt shops and to deal with international agencies directly. The personalities of international agencies is that they enforce their identities and camapaigns on Caribbean clients much easier than they can on their 'in market' clients or on agencies. Hence you get some very odd campaign paths.

It is for the same reason why the most successful regional companies actually have a global agency, a media booker, and a regional / local agency. And it isnt about having more money either. Its about applying context to identity.

This reminds me of the first attempt of the mascot for the Cricket World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007. It was a mongoose, which is considered a pest in the region. The agency had to quickly withdraw it. They were of course an Australian agency.

When they met a group of us in Jamaica for the creative agency briefing they talked forcefully about how they were in charge (and they were unfortunately). That WC summed up how much they, and their clients, ultimately the ICC / WICB, were in charge. Truth be told, the World Cup in 2007 was eminently forgettable. And it was so partly because it applied the Defy the Everyday model.