The Czechs aren’t very good at brand development in any context and the development of their national brand is no exception.  Its probably on a par with the efforts of the UK, which in my opinion are pitiful.

An important trick in the national branding arsenal is to big-up national events that support the character of the brand.  The Czechs kinda manage to raise a pulse or two when it comes to their national ice hockey team (who apparently are a bit good) and conjur up a little enthusiasm for their national football (soccer for you Americans out there) team, when they reach the finals of the World Cup, which isn’t the case this time around (he, he!).  However, they haven’t missed the opportunity to milk the lump-in-the-throat, emotional potential of the velvet revolution.  What Czech wouldn’t swell with pride at the memory of their David to the Russian Goliath (well maybe a few old Commies!) which, being twenty years ago this week provided a timely fillip to their national brand development campaign.

Their take on a celebratory TV spectacular was a characteristically high-brow celebration for Vaclav Havel (The figurehead of the revolution and the first post-Communist President) with live (well, I think there was a pulse in most cases) performances by a load of American esoteric like Suzanne Vega, Joan Baez and Lou Reed who, apart from being old muckers of Havel were, I guess, bang on the spirit of a nation whose escape from tyranny was led by a playwright.  British support came in the shape of a series of arms-length video messages from the likes of Mick Jagger, Peter Gabriel and … surprise, surprise … Bono – always good for a sound-bite in the cause of liberty, but still can’t pronounce his old mate Vaclav’s name correctly!  The event was probably sufficiently high-brow to pass well over the heads of the majority of those Czechs who would otherwise have been waving football scarves and definitely inaccessible to the average ice hockey supporter, but I hope that’s not all the celebrations this nation can muster.  Well, let’s see.  Meanwhile, maybe what we need to get brand development going in Blighty is a revolution?  Don’t be too quick to discount that idea!

Michael Weaver
November 15, 2009

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