Saturday, February 9, 2013

Marketing Carnival to the World




Is Carnival  “The Greatest Show On Earth”?

This post was written in response to an article in a Trinidad and Tobago Newsday Newspaper credited to the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Commerce.  You will agree with me at the end of this post that the article got it all wrong.

A link to the article is below.

 The headline read;   "The Marketing Potential of Carnival”  

As a marketer the headline pulled me in but it did not deliver what I expected. The headline suggested that there would be strategic solution to marketing Carnival to the world as an art form.  

 Instead it took the reader on a tangent that seemed farfetched.  Honestly, I really hate writing anything that contradicts another writer.  I understand that writing is not an easy task.  But as a writer I know that some things need to be said in this case I assume the responsibility to say it.  To offer a different perspective, a new view point. Marketing culture is very important and could be a challenge if a real difference cannot be identified.

The author suggested that marketing Carnival should focus on our ethnic  foods.  The article pointed out that all the islands in the Caribbean archipelago offer the same sun, sand and sea.  Trinidad and Tobago had to be different and we can do that by marketing our foods. And here's why...

It cited as proof the popular North American food channel that rated our “Bake and Shark” as a mouth watering and gave it an obscure award.  It suggested that the desire for that special Caribbean flavor could attract more tourists for Carnival.  

Interesting concept, considering the source but to say the least it's an absolutely unworkable proposition.  

Imagine a TnT government ad "Come to Trinidad for Award Winning Foods"

Differentiate we must.  That's why Carnival was labeled as “The Greatest Show On Earth”.  Whoever coined the term had hit on something.  It has been the standard description of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival. It worked before the advent of the internet.  It needs to tweaked now.

The relevant government ministry should re-examine its marketing position of the claim.  The Greatest Show On Earth does not stand up to close scrutiny.   

For example, “Greatest” could be quantified by the number of foreign visitors Carnival attracts annually.  Last year a minister in the government estimated that 220,000 visitors came to partake in the festivities.  Seemed high but that’s another post. 

Let’s assume that it was true, and compare it to the number of visitors to Brazil’s Carnival estimated last year at 5.3 million.  Trinidad and Tobago Carnival does not even come close.

Is the claim that TnT Carnival is the Greatest Show on Earth true?

A claim that we can prove is that Trinidad and Tobago has the “Biggest Party in the Caribbean”.  That claim is a much easier sell than what exists now. 

Maybe the rest of the Caribbean would competes with each other to attract tourists but Trinidad and Tobago can compete on a much different level.  

Answer this: 

Which other island has created its own musical instrument?
Which other Caribbean island excluding Jamaica has its own vocal art form?
Which other island or country in the Western Hemisphere host a party that is as big as TnT Carnival?

Sorry, the other Caribbean islands should not be considered competitors. What is a reasonable claim is that Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is quite literally the “Biggest Party In The Caribbean”

Brazil show is grander in terms of number of visitors and their ability to produce ingeniously creative masterpiece costumes may or may not compare However, in terms of a party mentality, Trinidad and Tobago stands alone.  Party is wired to the Trinbagonian psyche.  Instead of making a false claim, TnT should sell is what already exists.  

Which country, in the Caribbean or indeed in the world, has set aside two full days to party in every major city? 

A country where partying is not restricted to the evening or afternoon, You can begin to party from as early as 10 AM or 10 PM to 7 the next morning.  Carnival is a party with numerous pre parties that start at least three days before it Carnival begins. A country where noise pollution is expected and even condone by the law enforcement authorities. 

A perfect place to visit but...  The tourist haven where the only real concern is getting a decent, safe place to sleep.   

Upon awakening, they can be assured that somewhere in TnT there is a party they could attend. Trinbagonians work to party.  Food, of course, is always  integral to any party.  Would you invite a friend to your house for food if you are having a party?

The point is that the only way to market Carnival is with integrity.  It’s not the Greatest Show on Earth it is the Biggest Party in the Caribbean or maybe even in the Western Hemisphere. 

This slight repositioning will open up a doorway to a more sustainable marketable demographic with more disposable income; the younger generation.  

This new strategy could ramp up the number of visitors.  Based on the numbers we will never be the Greatest Show in The World but we do have teh infrastructure to host the "The Partyingest Biggest Party in the Caribbean. 

What do you think?


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