MARCO Launches First-ever Country Brand Awards

The first-ever Country Brand Awards has been announced with a total of 40 countries making the final selection whilst the winners are set to be revealed on 18 November. A unique methodology has been developed for the awards that counts on the conclusions of an independent study executed to examine each country’s reaction to the COVID-19 crisis but also consider their success in the areas of ‘Doing Business’ and ‘Doing Tourism’. The voting process will be determined by a jury of nine industry leaders from relevant sectors, brought together by MARCO, the international communications and PR agency, who is responsible for organising the awards.

The process of selection and analysis for the 40 finalists has been carried out by means of an independent study informed by MARCO’s expertise in Country Brand building and in which three main parameters were evaluated for each country, starting with their management of the current coronavirus crisis. The second criteria focused on their capacity to draw foreign investment and talent, in the area of ‘Doing Business’, whilst the third criteria investigated which countries have best managed to position themselves as attractive tourist destinations, also known as ‘Doing Tourism’.

With the pre-selection of 40 countries made, a jury made up of nine professionals from the fields of communication, marketing and international diplomacy will decide the final winners. This jury of industry leaders includes Gemma Baron, Academic Director of Marketing at the University of Nebrija; Constanza Cea, Executive Director of Marca Chile; John Harrington, Assistant Editor at PRWeek UK; Arvind Hickman, Editor of PRWeek UK; Paul Holmes, Founder of PRovoke Media; Miguel López Quesada, President of Dircom; Rodrigo Villamizar-Alvargonzález, Head of Strategy Americas at Kaiserwetter, former Minister of Energy of Colombia and former Ambassador of Colombia to Japan; and Fathallah Sijilmassi, CEO and Founder of Positive Agenda, former Ambassador of Morocco, former Head of Invest in Morocco (AMDIE) and ex Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterrenean (UfM). The jury will be presided over by Didier Lagae, Communication Professional of the Year, CEO and Founder of MARCO, and author of the book ‘A Country Brand, a Branded Country’.

All jury members will be guided by a strict selection process and weighted voting system in which countries will receive a grade from 0-10 across the same three criteria included in the study. As the standout challenge around the globe today, each country’s capacity to handle the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be worth 50% of their total score. Their success at ‘Doing Business’ will be worth 25%, and the final 25% will be judged in accordance with their score in the area of ‘Doing Tourism’.

The awards will be separated into two main categories. First, the Global Awards will include gold, silver and bronze winners for the global Country Brand accolade as well as a winner and runner-up in the subcategories of ‘Doing Business’ and ‘Doing Tourism’. Second, the awards by region will declare a gold, silver and bronze winner for each of Africa, Asia/the Middle East/Oceania, Europe and the Americas, and there will also be a winner and runner-up in the subcategories of ‘Doing Business’ and ‘Doing Tourism’ for each region too.

Commenting on the presentation of the Country Brand Awards, Didier Lagae said, “The present crisis has dictated the agenda of both the media and countries alike, transcending all existing borders. However, its management is having a significant effect on the image and Country Brand of each region, both positively and negatively. From MARCO’s global expertise, we have created the Country Brand Awards in order to highlight the correct, or indeed incorrect, management of their Country Brand during the pandemic, as well as to reward the good practices reflected in my book, ‘A Country Brand, a Branded Country’“.

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