Friday, March 18, 2016

Marketing Personality: Palma and the mountains

There was a bit of a rumpus at the Berlin ITB travel fair. It was to do with a logo, the one for the Maldives, official partner of the 2016 fair. Was it familiar? Was it rather like the logo used for Spain by Turespaña, the one that the painter Joan Miró had designed all those years ago?

Well, perhaps there was some similarity in the image of the sun, though whether it was a conscious attempt at imitation would be impossible to say. What one can say is that the Maldives' logo lacks the distinctive Miró flavour. Similar maybe but not the discernible style that characterised much of Miró's work.

The Turespaña logo dates from 1984, the year after Miró died. It is a logo that is one of the most recognisable graphic displays of branding in the tourism world. In terms of recognition, it is right up there with New York. While Miró may not be to everyone's taste, there is no denying the unique quality of the logo and of so much of his oeuvre. It is unmistakably Miró and it is for this reason that the logo has acquired such a reputation. It is different. It stands out. It makes a statement. It also captures the essence of culture - art in this instance - and of what Spain represents for so many, the sun. As a logo, it does more or less everything a logo should do.

This was not the first time that Miró had designed a logo for tourism. In the early 1970s he donated one to the Fomento del Turismo, the Mallorca Tourist Board. The Sol de Mallorca should arguably now be as famous and as recognised as the Spanish sun. Perhaps they thought there would be confusion by having two Miró logos. Perhaps it was because the newly formed regional government wanted, from 1983, to have its own logo. Whatever the reason, the Sol de Mallorca ceased to be the abiding image for the island's tourism. There has not been a good one ever since.

A logo is only as good as what supports it and what it represents. If a destination lacks substance, strong attributes and messages, then a logo on its own achieves comparatively little. A strong logo isn't always necessary, though. Palma, for example, is doing fine without having one.

In Palma's case, it is the substance and the marketing of its virtues which are proving to be the bedrock for the city's current success. And one of these is Miró. Of the three giants of twentieth century Spanish art, Miró didn't cultivate fame and notoriety in the way that Dali and Picasso did. For this reason, his name is not as strong on a global stage. But it is strong enough, and precisely because he was an altogether more humble man, it can be argued that there was and is greater substance to him. He didn't need the extravagances of publicity to declare his genius.

Miró, the man, his work and his personality have become something of a marketing concept for Palma. It makes very good sense that he should be, as does the apparent closeness between the Pilar and Joan Miró Foundation and the city in using this personality. To promote a city of culture, then who better to do so than an artist with such a strong association with the city and who bequeathed to it the buildings which combine to provide the Miró museum.

Mallorca has had a thing with using individuals for promotional purposes in the past, though this hasn't necessarily been terribly successful. Michael Douglas was arguably one of the more successful, but a weakness of the approach has been to use personalities whose associations are relatively superficial. This cannot be said of Miró. His Palma roots were and are deep.

When writing yesterday's article about the Tramuntana, I had thought about this use of personality. Reflecting on Palma's 365 marketing, Miró as some sort of figurehead is ideal. But Palma's marketing is, as observed yesterday, in a totally different league to that of the Tramuntana. It is heading towards a peak of excellence, while the Tramuntana's has yet to even aspire to make base camp.

If there were to be a personality for the Tramuntana, who would it be? Who, for a global audience, has the substance that Miró has for Palma? There are few candidates. Not Ramon Llull because the world doesn't know him. Not the Archduke Louis Salvador because only German speakers are aware of him. Chopin (and George Sand)? No. A three-month only residence disqualifies both as does the dislike that they expressed for Mallorca. Which leaves?

Someone with a deep association with the mountains and affinity with the culture. Someone whose name goes around the world. Someone who assisted in even better known personalities coming to Mallorca - Ava Gardner, Orson Welles and others. Robert Graves is that someone.

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