Selling Uganda on CNN was a brilliant idea

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The imperative need to package and sell Uganda to the world, so as to attract droves of tourists and investors, has been long overdue. Thankfully, the Brand Uganda campaign was launched last Saturday.

Whoever initiated this campaign deserves a public holiday in their honour! The last time I checked, there were over 300 online inquiries from tourists all over the world, which was just after two weeks of rolling our reel on CNN. I can imagine what it will be like after six months.

However, let’s not get carried away because our country is on CNN. That’s not where it should stop. Let us collectively embody this brand— we should dream, sleep, eat and even breath this brand! Let’s forget our differences and collectively utilise any given opportunity to spread the word about our desirable attributes as a country—our hospitality, interesting cultures, weather, natural beauty and wildlife. Let this brand become our thing and everyone buys into it. Good brands normally disintegrate because they are released and then forgotten. Let’s not get to this point.

For years we have been branded as the ‘Pearl of Africa’ but this has always sounded like a claim any Tom, Dick or Harry could make and attribute to Winston Churchill in a bid to make a quick sale. The ‘gifted by nature’ image to me is the real deal. It is gripping and I can swear it would make me want to run to Uganda if I were an outsider. I like the way it capitalises on the most visible aspect of our country — tourism, which is the most competent marketing tool we have as a country. But it only presents part of the picture, and needs careful alignment with the other channels of communication in order to achieve its full potential as ‘flagship’ for branding Uganda.
We could also capitalize on our exports to spread the word out about the positive attributes of our country.

Our coffee, for example, would be a very good vehicle; Andrew Rugasira probably knows this better. You can imagine what ‘made in Japan’ does for electronics or what ‘Made in Italy’ does for shoes. Let’s be proud enough to brand our exports as one of the ways of sustaining our national image.

Our leaders also have a big role to play, often times we are judged by the roles our leaders play in domestic and foreign affairs. However’ we shouldn’t leave the task to our leaders alone, let each ordinary citizen make it their business to communicate the complexities and contradictions of our country. Our athletes, our musicians, our religious leaders and even ‘nkuba kyeyos’ should become passionate ambassadors for Uganda.

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