PHNOM PENH (eTN) – The ATF edition 2010 in Brunei saw the launch of two new brands that are supposed to strengthen the image of ASEAN as a whole. The first initiative, endorsed by ASEAN ministers and NTOs, was a common project of USA International Development agency (USAID) and the Association of ASEAN Travel Agencies ASEANTA for a new logo and a website, which would be more appealing to consumers: “Southeast Asia, feel the warmth” was born with a web ( southeastasia.org ) offering information on each of the 10 member countries, tips, articles, pictures, and also a booking engine for travelers to the region. The website is still there but the logo, which could have turned into the new commercial brand of ASEAN for a large public, seems to have been watered down. According to anonymous sources, the involvement of the United States in the project did not please some professionals based in Asia, worried about USA influence over the region’s tourism. They launched a campaign against it, denouncing even the fact that the project provided funds to Myanmar -under a strict commercial embargo from the US congress, which bans any American company from doing business with the country.
Denunciation paid off: USAID withdrew its funds by early this year, with the official explanation that its “work had been done,” except that “Southeast Asia, Feel the warmth” has basically disappeared from the public eye. Just the website so far remains for consumers with the Southeast Asia logo also to be seen on the ASEANTA website.
The second new logo and tagline was “Equator Asia,” a project funded by Japan and created to enhance the image of the BIMP-EAGA (Brunei Indonesia Malaysia and Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area) – the almost incomprehensible entity for the general public regroups, in reality Borneo Island, Mindanao in the Philippines, and Sulawesi. Japan’s brainchild has a website ( www.equatorasia.org ), and no further visibility is probably due to its weird name, which says very little about the area. Both “Southeast Asia, feel the warmth” and “Equator Asia” were not visible in an official way during the ATF 2011 in Phnom Penh.
So much about the presentation of new taglines and logos from various ASEAN countries. Vietnam was supposed to announce during its ATF press conference the new logo replacing “Vietnam, the Hidden Charm,” launched in 2005. It looks like neither the government, nor the Vietnam National Tourism Administration (VNAT) managed to agree before the ATF about a slogan – an unfortunate missed opportunity for VNAT. Less than a week later, both logo and tagline were unveiled – “Vietnam, a Different Orient” is now due to strike a difference and help to grow international tourist arrivals by 10 to 15% a year until 2020.
New administration, new spirit, and then new logo: these are the reasons behind the attempt of replacing the decade-old “Wow Philippines” and unveiling it at the ATF, except that last November’s official launch of the Philippines’ new logo and tagline by the Department of Tourism turned into a complete flop. To resume: it was incomprehensible to anyone not fluent in Tagalog. It was “Pilipinas Kay Ganda,” which translates into “Philippines So Beautiful.” And it was accompanied by a website www.Pilipinasbeautiful.com . But, if typing by mistake an “F” instead of a “P” to look at the new content, Internet surfers were directed automatically to a pornographic website. Since then, the Philippines Department of Tourism continues scratching its head to find a replacement.
The simpler, the better. Thailand presented its tagline for 2011 – the well-established “Amazing Thailand” has added on “always amazes you” in a bid to bring an emotional dimension to the brand. Indonesia finally unveiled during the ATF “Wonderful Indonesia,” which will from now on adorn the country’s marketing campaigns.