Chapter 16: Packaging Political Projects in Geographical Imaginaries: The Rise of Nation Branding
Nick Lewis INTRODUCTION In October 2007, New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark opened a giant inflatable rugby ball in the shadows of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The ball, which acted as a theatre for an innovative audio-visual showcase of New Zealand’s tourism products, a stage for Maori performing arts, and a temporary venue for trade and diplomatic cocktail parties, formed a threedimensional billboard for New Zealand as a national product. It was erected at the time of the 2007 Rugby World Cup and aimed to promote New Zealand’s hosting of the 2011 Cup. Three years later, it was erected in Tokyo and opened by a different prime minister (Figure 16.1). It was again staged to coincide with a game of rugby and to advertise the 2011 World Cup, but was also expected to reinvigorate a declining market for New Zealand tourism in Japan and to add lustre to government–government trade talks and a meeting of the New Zealand–Japan Business Association. The example demonstrates both the creative application of nation branding and prominent nation brander Simon Anholt’s (2007b) conception of it as a mix of destination branding, place of origin marketing, and public diplomacy. There is nothing fundamentally new about the use of spatial imaginaries to sell products or attract inward investment. Place of origin marketing and destination branding have long histories in trade shows, lobbying, and tourism advertising. Brands are often tightly interwoven with geographical and even national imaginaries, as in the case of kiwi fruit, Vegemite...
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