With bravery as a new brand, advertising is a ‘weapon of war’ for Ukraine



PRI GEN INT .DENVER FGN3 UKRAINE-ADVERTISING-WAR With bravery as a new brand, Ukraine turns advertising into a weapon of war By Nadia KanevaAssociate Professor, University of Denver Denver, August 21 (The Conversation) When a preview of the issue of Vogue’s October 2022 cover story about Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska hit Twitter on July 26, 2022, with reactions on social media swift and polarized. Some critics said a shoot by famed photographer Annie Leibovitz for a fashion magazine was a bad idea and a glamor war. Others praised the magazine and Ukraine’s first lady for raising awareness of the suffering of Ukrainians, five months after Russia first invaded its neighboring country. In the cover photo, Zelenska, 44, wears a cream-colored blouse with rolled up sleeves, black pants and ballet flats. She sits on the steps of the Ukrainian parliament, leaning forward, her hands intertwined between her knees. Her makeup is minimal, her hair thrown casually as she looks directly at the camera. Within hours, Ukrainian women started using the hashtag #sitlikeagirl to share photos of themselves in the same pose as a show of solidarity. Zelenska’s Vogue profile, titled A Portrait of Bravery and written by journalist Rachel Donadio, is part of a broader communications strategy, mounted by the Ukrainian government, which aims to keep the world focused on the country’s fight against Russian aggression. As part of this effort, Ukraine also launched a national branding campaign in April with the slogan Bravery. Being Ukraine. As a communications specialist, I have studied how former communist countries like Ukraine have used marketing strategies to boost their international reputation over the past two decades, a practice known as nation branding. Ukraine, however, is the first country to launch an official national brand campaign in the midst of war. For the first time, brand communication is a key part of a country’s response to a military invasion. Nation Branding and the End of Communism The idea that nations can be branded emerged in the early 21st century. This type of work uses advertising, public relations and marketing techniques to enhance the international reputation of countries. Campaigns are often timed to coincide with major sporting, cultural or political events such as the Olympics. After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the former communist countries of Eastern Europe were particularly keen to rebrand themselves and achieve an updated international image. When Estonian musicians won the international Eurovision Song Contest in 2001, Estonia became the first post-Soviet country to hold the award. Subsequently, the country’s government hired an international advertising company to design a modern national brand for Estonia as it prepared to host Eurovision the following year. Research has shown, however, that the branding efforts of former communist countries were not intended solely for international consumption. They also provided a new way of talking about national identities at home and reimagining national values ​​and goals, via marketing terms. But until 2022, no country had used national branding to wage war. Bravery is our brand’ Executives from Ukraine’s Banda advertising agency first pitched the idea of ​​Ukraine’s Bravery Campaign to the government shortly after the invasion of Russia in February 2022. Based in Kyiv and Los Angeles, the agency had already worked before the war on government-sponsored projects. campaigns, promoting Ukraine as a tourist and investment destination. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy endorsed the wartime brand campaign and publicly announced its launch on April 7, 2022, in a video address. Bravery is our mark, he said. That’s what it means to be us. To be Ukrainians. To be brave. Over the following months, Banda produced numerous messages in formats ranging from billboards, posters and online videos, to social media posts, t-shirts and stickers. A campaign website features downloadable logos and photographs and asks visitors to share the message of bravery and donate to Ukraine. Some billboards feature images of brave, ordinary Ukrainians and soldiers. Other billboards are adorned with bold slogans in the blue and yellow colors of the Ukrainian flag. They urge the public to be brave like Ukraine and say that bravery lives forever. Inside Ukraine, campaign messages appear on everything from juice bottles to 500 billboards in 21 cities. The campaign is also running in the US, UK, Canada and 17 countries in Europe, including Germany, Spain and Sweden, according to AdAge. This massive communication effort is occurring at minimal cost to Ukraine. Banda donates its services and the Ukrainian government only pays the production costs. Media space, including high profile billboards in Times Square and other major cities, was donated by several global media companies. Branding as a weapon of war Banda co-founder Pavel Vrzheshch said the campaign aims to boost the morale of Ukrainians as they continue to fight Russia. But the focus on bravery is also about Ukraine’s future, he says. The whole world now admires Ukrainian bravery, we need to solidify this notion and make it represent Ukraine forever, Vrzheshch said in a media interview. At its core, the campaign attempts to transform intangible value, such as bravery, into an asset that can be converted into real military, economic and moral support. In other words, it aims to cultivate positive public opinion in the West that will support further aid to Ukraine to help fight the war. This way of using brand communication in a war is unprecedented in at least three respects. First, rather than relying solely on diplomatic channels to seek international support, Ukraine is harnessing popular media and social media networks to speak directly to citizens of other countries. It gives ordinary people around the world a chance to show solidarity by donating or sharing campaign messages and lobbying their government to support Ukraine. An official brand campaign also allows Ukraine to extend the visibility of the war beyond media coverage. As the conflict continues, it is likely to fade from international media headlines. But billboards, social media posts, and the strategic use of entertainment publications like Vogue can keep it in front of the public. Finally, the best brand messages connect consumers by inviting them to imagine better versions of themselves. Famous advertising slogans like Nike’s Just do it or Apple’s Think different illustrate this idea. The same goes for Ukraine’s call on people everywhere to be courageous like Ukraine. It’s notoriously difficult to measure the effectiveness of national brand campaigns, as brand consultants point out. The process is long and expensive, and the results are often disputed. The direct impact of the Brave Campaign may not be clear for months. It’s also unclear how long his message will continue to resonate. But it is clear that Ukraine is transforming national branding into a new propaganda weapon, suited to the era of consumer culture and constant media stimulation. (The conversation) VM 08210911 NNNN

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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