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By: Tim Russell Posted: September-29-2010 in
Tim Russell

Once again, the powers that be have announced another competition to design a logo & slogan for Vietnam’s tourism industry, following the much-maligned Hidden Charm campaign. Presumably they have been casting admiring glances at Amazing Thailand and Malaysia – Truly Asia, and hope that the new slogan will act as a silver bullet and turn Vietnam into a major tourism player overnight.

Well, it won’t. Firstly, Thailand and Malaysia have been in the game for over 40 years, and they have the products and the service to back up their slogans. If you’re going to describe yourself as “amazing”, you’d better walk it like you talk it, and Thailand most certainly does. Vietnam, on the other hand, may be an amazing country to visit, but its tourism products are predictable, unchanging and aimed squarely at package tourists who come for two weeks, travel from one end of the country to the other, and never return. You can’t turn that into a slogan, and you wouldn’t want to.

Secondly, slogan-based marketing is old hat in most of Vietnam’s main tourism markets. Whilst local consumers may be attracted by twee, often meaningless slogans such as Delighting You Always, Always Beside You or Enjoy Your Life, western consumers are a bit more cynical and are more interested in quality and content. For too many overseas visitors – the estimated 95% who never come back – the “charm” remains far too well hidden.

Thirdly, Vietnam’s logo, slogan and whole destination marketing policy focus solely on Vietnam, and not on the needs or wants of their target markets. Vietnamese culture alone is not enough to attract visitors, certainly not repeat ones; and there’s no shame in attracting the beach, golf & fun market. Thailand & Malaysia both get this right – their advertising features plenty of local culture, but it also shows foreign visitors having fun. Look for any sign of fun in Vietnam’s tourism marketing, and you’ll find it’s even more well hidden than the charm!

But let’s put cynicism to one side and play the game for a while. What are Vietnam tourism’s strong points? What are the positive things that tourists remember most when they return home? Well, it’s safe; it’s comparatively cheap; the people, particularly in the south, smile a lot; the noise, chaos and bustle are fun for first-time visitors; and it has some of the most stunning landscapes in Southeast Asia. So to sum up, it’s a lively, friendly, cheap, safe and naturally stunning destination for a holiday. That should be the starting point for any logo/slogan campaign. Readers, over to you!

This article originally appeared in the October 2010 issue of The Word

Tim Russell is owner & managing director of Come & Go Vietnam.

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I can see why you passed the

I can see why you passed the buck to the readers! Not an easy one.


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