The rain in Spain is fairly plain

By Julia Pastor, in Madrid | The bank with the greater economic weight in the euro zone is Spanish, Spain’s national football team won the World Championship, and so did the national basket team; the number two in the tennis ranking is from Majorca, Spanish chefs are in the covers of the most important newspapers of the world, foreign tourists and no tourists adore the jamón ibérico… The history of Spain has been vital for the world construction, its culture is rich, its traditions unique… Praising Spain’s charms is easy, but turn them into a first class economic asset seems to be a bit more difficult goal.The successive democratic governments have tried to more o less successfully, but never to the desired extent.

The new Rajoy’s government wants to try again. Foreign Affairs minister José Manuel García- Margallo and Rajoy himself announced, at the beginning of their term, their bet to give Spain back its reputation and its place in the world map. The first step to build the Spain brand has been a meeting that gathered on Tuesday the Foreign Affairs office with the presidents of 25 Spanish companies, all of them with internacional presence. García- Margallo considers the task as an all sectors’ common goal, therefore including in the task plan every minister and even the 130 Spanish embassies all over the world to redefine their role as Spain’s image promoters.

The need to reinforce the Spain brand is a fact largely discussed and analysed from different institutions, foreign as well as Spanish. In a report, recently published by the American Chamber in Spain, and also in a later letter adressed to Mariano Rajoy, it recommends the new government to reach a consensus on a Country Image Plan

“that works as an economic umbrella for the Spanish companies and products in the foreign countries, for  Spain as a serious country to do bussiness and make investments, as well as a economic power able to add value to the world governance.” In the American Chamber’s opinion, the current depressed situation is due not only to the quick deterioration of the Spanish economic indicators but also to “an exceess of negative visibility in the international media.”

Meanwhile, the Spanish think tank Círculo de Empresarios, along with the Wharton School, have recently presented the Fifth Yearbook of the Spanish Companies Internationalisation, which is a survey among the think tank’s members to determine the awards and special mentions for the most international domestic companies.

The study has considered very relevant the international operations of Abengoa and Iberia, as well as the career of Acerinox, Grifols, Indra, Europac, Pescanova and Viscofan. Furthermore, it reflects that, in cumulative terms, Spain keeps its place as tenth world direct investor after the US, France, United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Japan and Belgium.

Related to the meeting between the government and the Spanish multinationals, the daily Cinco Días published several opinions of different experts in strategy, communication and brand management. These are some of the their most remarkable points of view on how to achieve Spain’s international presence sucessfully.

Miguel Otero, general director of Leading Brands of Spain Forum, believes that

“the alternative would be a real model of public-private partnership, of an strategic alliance between the government, the main companies and the society as a whole. This is the option taken in countries like Finland (Mission for Finland) or Germany (Land of ideas), and they works effective and efficiently.”

On the other hand, José Manuel Velasco, President of the Spanish Dircom’s Association, says that

“this country needs a communication strategy. There is no lack of agents capable of distributing the message, but it isn’t just about messages but leaders able to take the bull by the horns and carry it to a new competitivity path.”

Ramón Casilda Béjar, advisor on international bussiness and writer, makes a link to the UK:

“the project for Spanish multinationals in a global and multipolar world reminds me of David Cameron’s words regarding his international policy, which is an example to follow: ‘I want to see the British foreign policy and the Foreign Office much more focused on commercial aspects and show that the United Kingdom is open to the multipolar world of bussiness. And that means to raise our ambassadors to businessmen.’”

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