Editorial: Marketing Brand Jamaica
Jamaica is on a high now because once again our athletes, led by the iconic Usain Bolt, have brought tremendous glory to the brand. People have been moved to tears, as was evident in some of the images captured in Half-Way Tree Square, which gives an indication of how nationalistic fervour can be ignited by brilliant performances.
Celebrity sportsmen and women can do much for a country's image. And at the national level, they are seen as bearers of hope. Jamaica, though small in size, looms large on the world stage because of the abundance of talent in the sporting arena, with the most popular being track and field, football, netball and cricket. Take Bolt. He has been an excellent representative as he exemplifies qualities such as dedication, determination and resilience. And many sports personalities have invested blood, sweat and tears by overcoming limitations and pushing their bodies to rise to the challenge of international competition.
Though lacking in resources, Jamaica has created the infrastructure to support our athletes' training and growth from very early so that they develop effective techniques that enable them to run fast, jump high, bowl and bat well, and shoot goals and often shock the world.
But after the hoopla associated with World Championships or the Olympics, what's next? How does the country benefit from, say, Bolt's promotional machinery? A strong brand has to be matched by sophisticated marketing strategies. That's what visiting British politician Grant Shapps is trying to tell the powers that be. He is urging the country to exploit its resources in sports, music and foods.
Mr Shapps, the UK minister with responsibility for the Caribbean, is well aware of the global appeal of the Jamaican brand, which accounts for our music being copied shamelessly, our foods being replicated, and the appeal of Jamaican music touching every continent.
And while Bolt has been named ambassador at large, how much, we ask, have we used him as a motivator for our young people? Surely, a Usain Bolt on a school tour would touch many young hearts and inspire some to greatness.
EXPLOIT STAR STATUS
In other words, it is now time to exploit the star status of our athletes for the betterment of the country. We urge the Jamaica Tourist Board, JAMPRO, and overseas missions, particularly, to find a strategy to creatively market Brand Jamaica so that the country may earn some economic spin-offs from the stupendous performances in China.
We note that Falmouth's Mayor Garth Wilkinson is calling for a statute of Bolt to be erected in the capital of the parish where the athlete was born. We believe Mayor Wilkinson has made a good call.
But why is there not a museum of athletics in Jamaica? With decades of exceptional performances recorded by Jamaicans during international competition, these efforts should be showcased for their educational value and as a monument to the extraordinary feats of our athletes. Locals and visitors alike should be able to relive these great moments in the country's sporting history.