Arun Sudhaman 23 Aug 2010 // 10:48AM GMT
And they call it silly season. It may seem a little frivolous but this is actually a serious post about the Chinese city of Chengdu's attempts to build a stronger international brand. It's an area this blog has looked at in detail before. The city tapped Ogilvy PR to head up this effort, and the agency has devised an interesting campaign that is based around Chengdu's biggest claim to fame: the humble panda. As Ogilvy PR China chief Scott Kronick points out, Chengdu wants to be seen on a par with China's major tourist destinations: Beijing and Shanghai. "They just need help in getting the word out." Perhaps the pandas will help. Chengdu houses one of the world's most important centres for research and protection of giant pandas. As a side note, it is also home to a major moon bear sanctuary, but I guess they didn't make the cut. Project Panda, as it is called, has begun a hunt for six global 'Pambassadors', who will spend a month at the Chengdu panda research centre, blogging about their experiences in the hope of raising awareness about the plight of the giant panda. The initiative is not a million miles removed from Tourism Queensland's highly-successful Best Job in the World drive. The recruitment website is at www.pandahome.com and is supported by the WWF. The campaign strikes me as a smart play by Chengdu. Chinese cities are known for a variety of things; conservation of animals not often being one of these. There is an obvious opportunity for resonance among an international audience which, presumably, is exactly what the city is hoping for. Meanwhile, the account is the latest indication that Ogilvy's work with Tsinghua University's Programme on Public Branding is bearing fruit. Expect plenty more of these campaigns as China continues to rethink its brand on the global stage.