Haiti is dead. Long live Ayiti!
Thanks to western media, Haiti is all about assassinations, political corruption, perpetual victims of natural disasters, a charity case, and always portrayed as the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
That’s the elephant in the room you have to address before you can start any serious discussion about how the tourism industry can thrive in Haiti. Keep the name Haiti, and you’ll need billions in marketing to reverse the multi-generational stigma. But there is a cheaper solution. Other companies have done it.
What’s in a Name?
We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, folks. Kentucky Fried Chicken became KFC because the company didn’t want its customers to associate their products anymore with the word “fried.”
Philip Morris, the maker of Marlboro, found that its corporate name was too synonymous with the taint of tobacco-related death and disease, so it became Altria.
In 1996, a ValuJet flight carrying 110 people crashed in the Florida Everglades, killing everyone on board and doing terrible damage to its reputation. The following year, ValuJet bought a smaller company and rebranded itself as AirTran Airways, later bought by Southwest Airlines.
To rename a thing is to change it without really changing it. Stringer Bell from The Wire gave a master class on this.
Change the Country Name in the Constitution
Persia became Iran, Siam to Thailand, Democratic Kampuchea to Cambodia, Burma to Myanmar. Why not us? Haiti to Ayiti; or, The Kingdom of:
- my personal favorite: The Kingdom of Fon.
Yes, I’m advocating that Haiti should become a titular monarchy like the Brits are now. A performative monarchy will give us certain marketing mystique that we desperately need.
Market by service or town name, not Country Name
Check out the Sandals website. Notice how you have to scroll down to learn what countries are under the Sandals brand? They are selling a dream, not a country. It’s all about exquisite beaches, fancy weddings, and luxurious cars going to special events.
Sell a Country, Sell its Crime Rate
Jamaica is one of the destinations under the Sandals brand, but I had to do some work to know that. The tv commercials for Sandals sure don’t highlight that fact. Imagine if the marketers at Sandals highlighted Jamaica as the destination. The first question most people would ask is if it’s safe for their families. Jamaica’s crime levels are higher than ours in the US.
(Stay tuned…This essay is still In development..come back often for new updates