How a brand manager can market the dynamic face of modern Bangladesh
From the GradConnect Research Desk
The 2014 T20 World Cup might have ended over a month ago, but remnants of the festive atmosphere and the energy it had generated still pulsate throughout our subcontinental host city. The banners and neon signs welcoming the world to Dhaka have mostly been left alight, and the flash mobs are showing no signs of stopping all the way from Cox’s Bazar in the south-east to Queens in New York City. While the impact can easily be seen domestically, the next step is to ensure that Bangladesh can make an impression globally.
Global marketing strategies need to be part of any ambitious marketers skill set. This is not without its challenges: the basic perceptions about Bangladesh which linger internationally encompasses natural disasters, political upheavals and cheap labour. Recently, an American Apparel advertisement ran with a topless model, one “who doesn’t need to identify herself as American or Bangladeshi,” with the tagline “Made in the USA – Sweatshop Free.” The message is clear: Bangladesh is repressive and exploitative.
The antidote lies with the current generation of marketers to ensure that the modern, progressive and dynamic Bangladesh is reflected. This can take various forms such as showcasing our very best talent as was the case with world cup tune “Char chhokka hoi hoi.” The catchy tune was seen through a positive prism and brought recognition, as shown by an article recently published by Fox Sports Australia, and poured attention on a strength uninitiated to the rest of the globe.
Today, the term “Beautiful Bangladesh” connotes more positivity to the global audience than most of us sitting here can presume. Although the term still has a long way to go compared to “Incredible India” and “Malaysia – Truly Asia,” the nation has never had a more positive image before.
Recently, a panel discussion was organised by the Future Strategy Group as part of their idea series. The theme of the series was “From Made in Bangladesh to Designed in Bangladesh.” The imagery is powerful, and reflective of the ambitions of this young country. No longer are Bangladeshi organisations interested in being relegated to the end of a production line; rather, they aspire to become architects of their own destiny.
In the discussion “Towards Innovative Bangladesh,” each of the speakers asserted the fact that to establish Bangladesh as a well-established brand in the outside world, brand managers, more than ever before, have to establish world class brands through innovation of both process and promotion.
Today, branding is no longer just about your product. It is also about your position in comparison with the rest of world. Not only does Bangladesh have the responsibility to produce high quality goods but also to convey the message which enshrines the positivity of everything that is happening domestically.
The concept of popularising brand management in Bangladesh was highlighted by the Aromatic Halal Soap’s onslaught between 1997 and 2000. This example of branding is cited by marketing professors locally and internationally. In 1997, Aromatic ran an advertising campaign based on the tagline that their soap was “100% halal,” resulting in the brand becoming the number one soap brand in the country.
The example demonstrates how positioning a product can do wonders in a world ruled by consumers. Importantly, it shows that the talent lies within Bangladesh to create game changing marketing strategies. Further, it focuses on the impact of brand managers, in which well established brands can fall behind and conversely, lesser known brands can become chart toppers in a short space of time if they skilfully push their brand upwards.
The academics nowadays increasingly focus on the idea of “Designed in Bangladesh” rather than “Made in Bangladesh” as a mechanism with which to invert the global perception. High quality brand managers are being developed through the business schools of the country and by facilitating opportunities for the Bangladeshi diaspora to attract them to Bangladesh.
While the country’s education system has been modernised in the past few years and new pedagogical techniques are constantly being explored by instructors, it is imperative that the prospective leaders of the country are exposed to more real world problems and encouraged to solve them.
The modern world is filled with information and the industry and university alliance can facilitate the sharing of knowledge between the outside world and educational institutes. The bond between the academic and corporate world can support the discovery hidden talent and to equip them with the tools required to maximise their abilities.
Brand managers have the opportunity to not only shape their products but also the nation’s image and will take center stage. It is imperative that the country focuses on building these high quality brand managers who can promulgate the idea of a “Beautiful Bangladesh” and reflect our country as the progressive economy it is transforming into.