Monday, November 20, 2017

Branding Mallorca's Interior

Sa Pobla has a new tourism brand, though new isn't accurate. Nor is brand for that matter. Sa Pobla has a tourism logo; it's first, as far as I'm aware. A brand is quite another thing.

The logo was unveiled at the third conference on Sa Pobla tourism. Three and a half hours, with coffee break, to enjoy the unveiling of the logo and to consider, inter alia, the application of the holiday rentals law and "synergies" between Sa Pobla and the tourism in Alcudia Bay.

In keeping with the vogue for citizen participation, the citizens had been invited to help with the logo design. Well, they were given colours to choose at any rate. And which is the predominant colour? Red. As ever, there was a marketing company on hand to explain the logo. Red denotes fire and also passion, dynamism and strength. Let's stick with the fire, shall we? Sa Pobla's fires of January form a strong association, though fires, it has to be said, tend not to be red.

The common denominator to the logo is symbolised by roots dropping from the base of Sa Pobla's b. These roots are the roots of tradition, of agriculture and of the potato in particular. There are also multicoloured brushstrokes to denote fireworks of fiesta time. There was no explanation as to why the tail on Sa makes the word look as if it is Sax. This would be appropriate. Sa Pobla has a fine international jazz festival. This festival doesn't seem to have featured high, if at all, in the citizens' participatory eyes.

It's fair enough to ask for the input of the citizens. It's fine to find out what they believe is most representative of where they live. But what does this do for tourism? Perceptions of local people and of tourists, such as they are or might be, will be different.

There is an example of this. Asked about the January fiestas for Sant Antoni, 67% of adults identified the figure of Sant Antoni himself as being most representative of the fiestas. While the demons attracted 19%, the demons correfoc fire-run got only two per cent. Sant Antoni exists in the soul of the Sa Pobla folk, but despite all the publicity the likes of myself give to the saint, I would have to question how meaningful he is to visitors. Demons on the rampage are, I would suggest, more meaningful.

Has this branding exercise been undertaken the wrong way round? Should it not be tourists who are pinpointing what's meaningful? Maybe they could in the resorts, but in a town like Sa Pobla, with little tourism and few tourists, there would be no meaningful data. Residents it is, then.

The problem lies with building a brand. A logo is fine, but a brand is way much more. Sa Pobla has a long way to go in even beginning to establish a brand concept. It can look across the Albufera wetland to Alcudia and know that there is a brand, albeit a somewhat schizophrenic one of differing reputations and very different types of tourist.

Sa Pobla has its ambitions for tourism. Hence it stages the annual tourism conferences. Key to these ambitions are holiday rentals. They heard about the ins and outs of the legislation from the now new tourism director-general, Antoni Sansó, but he is not at liberty to give any idea how the rentals' lottery will work out. He may not know, though one suspects he has more than an inkling.

These ambitions for tourism are ones shared with other municipalities in Mallorca's interior. How realistic are they for Sa Pobla and for these other towns and villages? The rentals' decisions may well prove to be an attempt at engineering tourism development in the interior, but for any of these municipalities there have to be incentives for tourists to choose to go there in the first place and then to stay there when they arrive. The "synergies" with the bay of Alcudia form mostly one-way traffic - out of Sa Pobla and to the beaches, to the nightlife, to the much greater choice of restaurants. As for good old Sant Antoni in January, it's a lovely thought that tourists might come in any great number. But for those tourists who are in Mallorca in January, Sant Antoni can be enjoyed mostly anywhere. And then there is of course, you know what. Flights.

Grabbing hold of fiesta traditions and gastronomy are all well and good, but which village can't lay claim to these? Yes, the traditions in Sa Pobla are unmatched in their historical terms, but do these count for a great deal? Enough to form a firm brand in the minds of tourists? Is it not really the case that villages on the Mallorcan plain are in fact just reflections of Mallorca and its traditions and its brand? But does that brand owe much (anything) to the island's interior?

* Photo from Ajuntament de Sa Pobla Facebook.

No comments: