Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One Beer, 47 Different Tastes

Can Europe be sold like beer? In my opinion, the answer is no. Lets cozy on up to the bar to find out why. Look at that selection of brews on the wall…bottles of all shapes and sizes, filled with different shades of amber liquid, just waiting to be poured into a tall glass. How will you choose?
The choice isn’t so difficult for the handsome Italian man a few stools over. He immediately orders a refreshing Peroni and takes a swig from the bottle, adorned with a sophisticated label that exudes flawless Italian style.
On your other side is a chatty female student, visiting from Amsterdam. She finishes her first drink, and waves in the direction of the bartender, who soon returns with a second Heineken in hand. The bright green bottle with its unmistakable red star adds a punch of color to the bar, as does the girl’s bubbly personality.
Your conversation is suddenly interrupted as a group of Irishmen enter the room and noisily order a round of Guinness. One by one, shiny glasses embellished with golden harps are filled to the brim with the dark, cloudy beer and carried over to the table. The men seem to feel right at home as they sip their stouts and chat with their friends.
Each country often has a beer of choice, and that beer is carefully marketed using specific graphics, advertisements, taglines and words tailored to consumers in that particular area. Each beer has its own personality that is meant to appeal to a certain type of person.
Contrastingly, organizations such as the Council of Europe have the daunting task of appealing to an audience of a much greater scale: all of Europe. These organizations must also take into account the geographic distribution and mind-boggling range of cultures and traditions within this audience. Their job is to create an image that targets all of these people in one fell swoop. If we’re talking in terms of drinking, that’s the equivalent of creating one beer to suit the tastes of everyone on the continent. Needless to say, you’re gonna need a really great label to sell that one.


In order for Europe (or, more specifically, European integration) to be sold like beer, a target audience must be established and their specific needs addressed in the sales pitch. This target audience can be individual states or individual citizens, and the sales strategy must be altered depending on whom it is aimed. While states and their top leadership may be swayed by a Europe that promises political clout, individuals are more likely to have needs specific to their socioeconomic conditions. Just as beer-drinkers on a diet can be enticed to buy light beers, Europeans whose socio-economic situations are in need of improvement will buy into a picture of an integrated Europe that provides for its citizens.
Beers exist in a dizzying array of varieties, as each one is created to please the palette of a certain type of consumer. In the same way, the picture of Europe must be painted in as many different lights as there are perspectives of states or individuals. You cannot sell a ‘hands-off’ integrated Europe to a nation or person in dire need of assistance; instead, the sales pitch must highlight the hands-on aspects of Europe that will appeal to their need for social, economic, and physical care.
In addition, when selling Europe to a specific audience, one must portray the benefits of this picture of Europe as drastically outweighing the pitfalls. Just think how much thinner you will become drinking only light beer! Flavor won’t matter when you’re wearing a bikini, looking beautiful, and feeling confident! Spinning every negative view of Europe (or a beer) into a positive one for the target audience is one of the most important tools for selling Europe as a product.

"Europe" : The Latest Commodity

As any good salesman or saleswoman knows, the only way to see their product to the target audience is to entice all of their five senses- easy as that. But alongside intriguing the senses, by making key points about the product, this also helps draw them in closer. So let's say, for the sake of this argument (and for Europe in general), the product was beer. Since beer is cherished by so many of all ages, it makes you wonder: What makes it sell as well as it does? Is it the seemingly endless photos of an ice-cold, frothy beer overflowing over the chilled mug, the feeling of relaxation and contentment as one drinks a sip, or is it the half-naked women who are standing next to these blissful images? All of these factors play a major role in luring the target audience, which generally in this case, are party-hungry college students. But what if the product was "Europe"? As vast as that sounds, would it be feasible to sell this idea of "Europe" just like a beer?

My answer is simple: yeah, why not? Like all other products sold in the world today, these products have become successful because the teams of advertisers have been able to effectively attract their target audiences. So, who would be the target audience for a product like "Europe"? That answer comes all too easy: Europeans of course. Though it may sound silly to sell the idea of "Europe" to well, Europeans, since they already live in Europe and should know what exactly "Europe" has to offer. But, in many cases, this is not always correct.

So, in order to sell "Europe" to Europeans, I see three main means of advertisement that would attract those who live in Europe to buy into a product like this. They read as follows:

1. The ability to move freely from country to country
2. The ability to explore and discover other countries, especially the
richness of culture and traditions
3. Incredible food, need I say more?

So, now my question is who would not want to be able to travel freely from one country to another without having to face limitations? I know as an American student coming to live in a European country, this makes life a whole lot easier as well as enables me to feel connected to other parts of this great continent. Not to mention, as other Europeans are able to move from one country to another, this allows them to look for better economic conditions and in addition, a happier way of life.

Alongside this importance of free movement, it also enables individuals to travel to other countries and experience cultures that are unfamiliar to them. That is what is so special about the world today; not a single country is exactly the same as another country. As Europeans travel to other countries, unfamiliar areas than what they are used to, this permits them to learn about the cultures and traditions of their fellow neighbors. Europe is a vast region but when those who live here become familiar with the lifestyles of those around them, it becomes a more unified and connected place. Learning about other cultures allows Europeans to see the world in a completely new perspective as well as their own which ultimately, helps them become more eclectic and well-rounded.

Speaking of well-rounded, this brings me to my third and final point: food. It is known that each region of Europe has its own specialties; whether it is the bretzel in Germany, the waffle in Belgium, or crepes in France, everyone is aware of these delicacies based on the area they are in. Just like these foods, the idea of "Europe" holds the same concept. Though each region is known for different things, these specialties are what make Europe as special as it is. Therefore, this ultimately makes individuals, especially Europeans themselves, to want to live in such a place of great uniqueness as well as unification. I do not think it can get much better than that.

Thus, it is rather easy to see that "Europe" can in fact be sold similar to an everyday product such as beer, it just depends on the way one goes about advertising it. It might not be due to the photo of an ice-cold beer or the half-naked girl in a bikini holding it, but it is due to the message that lies behind the product. Both "Europe" and beer can bring their audience a feeling of contentment that is unlike any other; in the end, this is what will allow Europe to sell.

-Jonell Yablonski

Can Europe be sold like a beer?

Perhaps not like a beer, but what about a designer brand? Make the Council of Europe the Chanel of Europe. It’s trendy, fashionable, exclusive, durable, and easily identifiable – all things the Council of Europe brand needs. There ought to be elegance in simplicity. All of the bureaucracy, technicalities, projects, and court cases could unify under a single banner of the European Guardians of Human Rights. From this image of “Guardian”, the brand is associated with notions of honor, intelligence, justice, strength. Legitimacy is built through its longevity and the work it has done in the past.

Like Chanel, the Council needs to stand out among other similar brands. Although there are other well known European brands – Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabana, etc – the double crossed C’s of Chanel are identifiable and distinct. Those who are not in tune with fashion may not know the particular style of Chanel, but even so, they recognize Chanel to be a separate entity. Similarly, the Council’s brand must stand apart from the European Union, the OSCE, and other European institutions. Not everyone knows that Chanel is French, but it is certainly European and certainly a very classy brand. That’s enough for it to sell its image abroad and similarly, the Council should sell its name to the US, Russia, and the rest of the world.

The difficulty arises when the brand must sell in Europe. Here is where the analogy of Chanel breaks down because unlike Chanel, the Council must sell itself as something pan-European but not monolithic. It can’t seem partial to any particular country but it also cannot swallow up individual countries because there are those who are wary of being dominated by the whole of Europe. The brand needs something to show that it appreciates the diversity of European countries while also demonstrating the need for cooperation and unity among them. Perhaps the symbol of “Guardian” can be used to be a guardian of individual countries through the effective cooperation and protection of all.

This is all a general concept for a brand the functions the brand should carry out. It does not go into much detail about how to make these things happen, and honestly, I’m not sure how PR does that. But as an overview for the goals of the brand, I think it would be best for it to be legitimate and esteemed as well as classy and attractive, like Chanel has accomplished.