In this age of open media and communication, attempts to nation branding have necessarily become easier and harder! It has become easier because you can quickly spread the word about your country (of course positive ones that help branding). It has become harder for the same reason: the negative words also spread quickly (or quicker?) that may harm a nation brand.
In this easier-harder matrix, let us put a classic example of power of advertising vs. publicity. In the past, Bangladesh tried its level best to exert efforts in nation branding. Take the example of 2011 Cricket World Cup and its opening ceremony. The world has known us as a capable partner nation of organizing such an event. Advertising of Bangladesh as a tourist destination has also been well noticed (if you remember “school of life” advertising). Millions of dollars have been spent for a good reason, whether you agree or not. Theoretically, we can expect some positive impact of all these on our nation brand.
Apart from this expensive advertising, including our budget for holding a successful cricket world cup, consider the latest free publicity that we got from a recent survey by the UK-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU). EIU survey has ranked Dhaka as the third least liveable city in the world among 140 cities surveyed. According to news reports, living standards in Dhaka has been said to be deteriorating gradually with unplanned urbanization, lack of utilities and burden of overpopulation. Besides those, the problems of transport, environment and safe drinking water, law and order have pushed the city near the bottom (according to survey criteria). It turns out that, expensive advertising and all other promotion tools won’t work until we take care of our “core branding proposition”. Until we fix ourselves within, no amount of advertising would work since free publicity will be around to portray the true picture, making advertising a waste.