Brand South Africa and its marketing partner, FCB Africa, have achieved finalist status in the 2017 City Nation Place Awards, an international competition benchmarking and celebrating best practice in place branding vision.
The competition attracts entries from place marketing boards, mayoral teams, tourism promotion agencies, foreign direct investors (FDIs) and economic development boards, and the communication consultancies who are working with them.
Places as diverse as Chile, Eindhoven, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Malapolska, Argyll & the Isles and South Africa have made this year's finalist list.
Competing in the Best Expression of Place Identity Through Design category, the Brand South Africa/FCB Africa team go up against Interbrand (which entered Courmayeur), Eindhoven 365 (which entered Eindhoven), Visit Jackson (for Jackson) and Binsfled-Vidalegloesener (for Luxembourg).
Brand South Africa is the country's official marketing agency, responsible for building the country's reputation, proactively marketing the country as investment destination, promoting exports, and improving its global competitiveness.
According to its General Manager for Marketing, Sithembile Ntombela, the campaign achieving finalist status was conceptualised and rolled out to deliver one core message: 'South Africa is an attractive, viable, world-class investment destination for investors, traders and tourists. And it's open for business'.
"The political and economic instability of the past decade had negatively impacted on investment in developing economies," she said.
"This, coupled with perceived instability in the country, the herd behaviour of investors and low familiarity with South Africa as investment destination, increased the risk that South Africa could lose its competitive edge in Africa. In addition, our 'Nation Brand' - as expressed by Brand South Africa - could be impacted negatively.
"Combatting this was the challenge posed to FCB Africa's strategic and creative teams. The resultant campaign demonstrated South Africa's foreign investment environment, key attractiveness features, and the extent to which the policy environment provides protection for investment."
The strategy developed by FCB Africa in partnership with Brand South Africa, was informed by key themes in the country's National Development Plan 2030 and leveraged its 2000-year history of business, juxtaposing this with that of other developing countries.
It also showcased the country's business and investment 'Big 5': a developed economy, good governance, a strong industrial base, world-class infrastructure, and innovation - all elements that international investors look for when considering foreign investment destinations
"We anchored our creative strategy and execution of the campaign in a heritage site: Mapungubwe, an ancient African civilization where evidence is found of trade with India and other countries in pre-colonial history," explained General Manager at FCB Africa with oversight of the Brand South Africa account, Mariaan van Kaam.
"With this truly African context as its base, the 360o campaign then showcased contemporary South Africa, its economic and socio-cultural diversity, and the fact that the country offers major opportunities for FDI growth, and links to the Pan-African market."
Key international forums targeted by the campaign included the DAVOS meeting in January 2017, and the World Economic Forum on Africa hosted in Durban, South Africa, in May 2017.
"The campaign has proven itself to be robust, resilient, inspiring, multi-faceted and able to stand its ground against competitor nation brands. And it has already delivered impressive results," added Van Kaam.
"For example, the 2017 EY Africa Attractiveness Survey finds that South Africa attracts the bulk of FDI, and is the most attractive investment destination in Africa with 20.6% of FDI to Africa coming to the South African market.
"Furthermore, Reptrak (Reputation House) found that South Africa's Overall Nation Brand Reputation Index in 2017 moved up 4 places from its 2016 ranking, while the country's perception among the G8 has improved year-on-year, scoring 55.1 in 2017 compared to 49.2 in 2016.
"These and other improvements in South Africa's standing as an investment, business and tourist destination have made all the work and effort worthwhile. But we're also delighted with Brand South Africa's finalist status as it affirms the partnership's world-class status," concluded Ntombela.
Winners of the City Nation Place Awards will be announced the City Nation Place Global Forum, which will take place in London on 9 November 2017 and is the annual meeting place for senior executives responsible for building, developing and communicating place brands around the world.
Cape Town, entered by Cape Town Tourism, is a finalist in the Best Citizen Engagement category.