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SELLING BRAND MODI TO THE WEST.

The paradigm shift in EU's attitude towards the Gujarat CM can be attributed to the effective marketing by APCO Worldwide

AS THE West warms up to chief minister Narendra Modi, part of the credit also goes to the marketing brains behind the promotion of ' brand Gujarat'. Had it not been for the foreign investmentfriendly image of the state, projected by the Gujarat administration with effective support by a global communication, stakeholder engagement and business strategy firm, APCO Worldwide, the spurt in the acceptance for Modi in the West would have been delayed at best and denied at the worst.

Vibrant Gujarat

A trendsetter in Indian polity, the Narendra Modi government hired APCO Worldwide in 2009 as the official relationship partner for its Vibrant Gujarat Global Investment Summit 2011. One of the most powerful global entities in its domain, APCO worked with the government, Confederation of Indian Industry and PricewaterhouseCoopers for the event that secured investment pledges worth ` 21 lakh crore in 2011.

The firm was also retained for 2013 Vibrant Gujarat summit in Gandhinagar and the results are for everyone to see. Within a month of organising the event, Modi has been invited by the lawmakers of the European Union ( EU) to attend European Parliament and European Business Meet in Brussels later this year. For the records, Modi was a persona non grata for the EU until recently due to his alleged role in the 2002 riots in Gujarat.

According to sources, much of the credit for this paradigm shift can be attributed to the effective marketing by APCO. The firm, which has been promoting the state as an investment destination, has made more efforts to holistically promote brand Gujarat than just marketing the biennial summit.

A source in APCO said the firm has not only handled the public relations of the state government but also reached out to various state bodies as well as " international stakeholders" to promote Gujarat as a lucrative investment option with minimum red tape.

The firm carried out perception audits for the event and helped the state government devise strategies apart from co- ordinating the meetings of state delegates with various international bodies in the run up to the Vibrant Gujarat summit.

Last year, Steven King, one of the senior vice- presidents of the firm, had told M AIL T ODAY that the firm had got positive stories on Gujarat published in reputed news publications across the globe.

Image building

However, a source within the firm strongly denied that APCO has any other mandate than promote the event, as far as Gujarat is concerned. However, he admitted that the strong branding of Gujarat has also helped in strengthening brand Modi across the globe as an investor- friendly pragmatic leader. " It is like the CEO of a company that is doing well," the source said.

" In case the company does well, the CEO naturally benefits; similarly as brand Gujarat gains strength, so does brand Modi," the source added.

APCO Worldwide boasts of an international advisory council, which comprises more than 40 recognised global leaders, including former elected politicians, leaders of business and industry, academics at leading universities, world- class journalists and editors, NGO and nonprofit pioneers, diplomats and policy experts.

The company also offers " Global Political Strategies" ( GPS) as an executive service. " GPS brings together some of the world's most experienced diplomats, policy advisors and business people to help you navigate the challenges of operating in a truly global environment," the company claims.

The company has Tim Roemer, who had served as US ambassador to India, on its board as senior vice- president and listed under New Delhi and Mumbai key staff.

The firm has made more efforts to holistically promote brand Gujarat than just marketing the summit

VIRTUAL CONTEST

WARY of extensive cyber campaign by the BJP and Narendra Modi's projection as a techsavvy leader, the Congress had launched its own cyber campaign ahead of the Gujarat elections last year.

The cyber cell of the party had put up an impressive show, albeit without much success electorally. Now to counter Modi's growing image and appeal among the Indian electorate, the Congress is learnt to have taken the process to the national level.

Speaking to M AIL T ODAY , Rohan Gupta, the chairman of Gujarat Pradesh Congress IT Cell, said while the party did not hire professional campaigners, it created an army of volunteers from among its workers and conducted seminars at the district levels.

It also trained people to carry out campaigning on the social media. " Now this model is being extended to the rest of the country as well," Gupta added.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Feb 20, 2013
Words:783
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