Thursday, April 27, 2006

Afghanistan, your next career move

Ad execs tired of London used to go to South East Asia. However, there could be a new destination on the itinerary and its called Afghanistan.

News just in from JWT: Afghanistan is a largely untapped territory for many marketers. I'm just trying to wonder why that might be.

Oh wait…now, I remember, Afghanistan is a largely lawless country best known for its connection to the heroin trade, home of mountain dwelling Osama Bin Laden, has the death penalty for conversion from Islam, renegade Taliban guerrillas and the top headlines on Google all start like this: "Three killed…", "Four killed.." and "13 Killed…". That was in the last four days.

Still in a release from JWT that arrived this morning it sees many opportunities for multinational companies looking to extend the reach of their brands. Land Rover? Hummer?

This really is marketing at the sharp end. Still JWT seems game after forming a venture with a local post-Taliban established agency in 2004. However, it does have some useful tips should you wish to make a foray into Kabul.

1. Afghans welcome advertising. Prior to the fall of the fall of the Taliban in 2001 they didn't have any. Result. Pesky Westerns might now be adept at avoiding advertising, but these Afghans don't know what's hit them. Although JWT warns that "the mystique will likely fade".

2. Communication messages must be simple. Marketers must return to the basics mostly because 4 adults out of 5 are illiterate; therefore, much print and outdoor advertising is conveyed through visual image. Forget the long copy ads.

3. Beware the backlash, if you think KFC had problems, that's nothing according to Emmanuel de Dinechin, a partner at Altai Communication who warns that the “the slightest insensitivity could elicit a backlash from consumers”. This could involve flag burning and rioting and death should you be a Danish firm as Arla recently found out in the prophet Mohammed cartoon fracas.

4. However, if you win you could win big. JWT describes Afghanistan as "virgin territory". Someone get on the blower to Branson, he'll be out of his Jacuzzi and on the next transport plane into Kabul.

A few years ago, Altai asked men – that is just men - to name iconic brands and all they came up with was Coke and Toyota. Insert your brand name here to join a country that apparently has recognition of just two brands.

5. They already have Pop Idol. Wait ... is that a good thing?

6. Bring your own Kevlar. You might need it.


At 12:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there are vacancies for a couple of young thrusting sales execs out there let us know...

At 12:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

perhaps if we went out there we'd get our commission paid on time


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