Interview with Eduardo Oliveira, PhDResearcher at Uni. Groningen
the connections between territory and the possibility of tourism becoming a driving force towards regionaldevelopment. The...
to support a place brand. So, it’s important to implement a place branding strategy as a whole and not justpartially with ...
Another example is – I feel Slovenia, where some moreacademic research has been developed around the Slovenia country bran...
planning and in practical terms help develop their communities with my knowledge. Contributing with mymind, my ideas – som...
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Interview with Eduardo Oliveira @

  1. 1. Interview with Eduardo Oliveira, PhDResearcher at Uni. Groningen on February 28, 2013 by sjmanniex • Posted in Interviews • Tagged Eduardo Oliveira, Interview, University ofGroningen • Leave a comment Born in Braga, Portugal, Eduardo is currently pursuing a PhD at theUniversity of Groningen in the Netherlands. His background is in geography and planning, marketing andstrategic management, and his doctorate research focuses on the theory and practice of place branding instrategic spatial planning. Eduardo is a popular speaker on the conference circuit, and a frequent blogger at hiswebsite New World Research.Connect with Eduardo: • Twitter • LinkedIn • New World Research (blog)Hi Eduardo, thanks for joining us today. I’m excited about talking with you!First of all, I’m curious to know what sparked your interest in place branding, and spurred you on to studyit as a PhD?Samantha, let me start with a warm thank you for this interview. I’m happy for another opportunity tocontribute to the discussion around the absolutely hot topic of place branding.I used to say that doing research in place branding is already a part of my life even though I do feel quiteyoung in this field of research. Let me tell you why by taking a ride back to 2004. I was in my last year of ageography and planning degree in Braga and decided to research the trends in tourism geography, exploring
  2. 2. the connections between territory and the possibility of tourism becoming a driving force towards regionaldevelopment. The interaction between territory and the economic perspectives was what attracted me the most.After some work experience I was thinking every day about going back to academic life. After some deepreflection I embarked upon a Master of Science in Marketing and Strategic Management, also in Braga. Icompleted the MSc with a master thesis in place marketing and territorial competitiveness, focusing on thenorth of Portugal as a case study. Once again, that kind of inner attraction to explore the synergies betweenterritory/places and competitiveness/development served as my motivation to finish the MSc in 2010, after sixmonths at university in Malaysia.Aware of the main references in place marketing and place branding and following the dream of pursuing PhDstudies I decided to explore possible host institutions and eventually achieved a scholarship to do the PhD atthe University of Groningen where I’ve been since January 2012.So, step by step, fighting little daily battles, I’m building a dream that hopefully will find a stage with thedoctoral thesis and, more importantly, improve the place branding discipline and propel me into an academiccareer.That’s very useful information for those looking for a path into place branding as a career. But placebranding as a discipline is fairly new. What do you think of the discipline in general, and do you think it hasgood potential for growth?The historical roots of place branding go back to the theory and practice of place selling and place promotion,which is associated with developments in the literature on urban policy that has attracted geographers,sociologists, anthropologists and regional economists since long ago. However, place branding is a fairlyrecent field of research. The objective of place branding reflects my desire to explore the connections betweenterritory and economy, plus attempts at community development, citizens’ well-being and making placesbetter.Good place branding enhances the goals of furthering economic restructuring, political engagement, attemptsto community participation, therefore, regarding the current economic situation in the western society, placebranding has a huge potential for growth.Place branding applied as a tool towards an effective strategy, could better support a structural change inplaces, despite the fact that it’s not a magical solution and should be integrated as part of a wider placestrategy. At this level my research focuses on using place branding as an instrument in strategic spatialplanning.Key words for a successful place branding process are integration, engagement and community participation,from my point of view. There’s so much to explore and contribute to the discussion in place branding thatmotivates my everyday life as a researcher.What’s your perspective on the logo/slogan debate? Do you think these common product branding tools stillhave any value for branding places?My point of view is that the logo, the tag lines, for example “I love (…)” applied in so many cities suchas New York, Manchester, slogans for tourism destinations as Malaysia Truly Asia or Incredible India areimportant to better communicate or interact with the tourists, investors, citizens and stakeholders that relateswith the place. But let me highlight the India case. If you do some Googling you will find MemorableIndia and also that Incredible India, so which one is official?The rationale behind the place branding process is that a place must first clarify what kind of brand it wants tobecome, then figure out how it can create mental, psychological and emotional ties with a range ofstakeholders. The place should identify and implement strategic thinking into the process and clearly identifythe functional and physical attributes that the place needs to create, improve, emphasise or even avoid, in order
  3. 3. to support a place brand. So, it’s important to implement a place branding strategy as a whole and not justpartially with colourful logos and catchy slogans. Both are important as communication tools but should besupported by an integrated process.Tell us about the best place branding campaign you know about. Why do you think it has been effective? One of the best examples usually presented duringconferences related with place and destination branding is the Singapore case. Singapore has always beenambitious, and wanted to become a key player in the global creative economy. A rebranded process wasimplemented focusing on Singapore as a creative city even with on-going discussion of the complexrelationships between democracy, freedom of expression and the branding process. Your Singapore, thecurrent destination brand for the city-state, aims to celebrate the city’s multicultural population, to positionSingapore as the most economically developed country in Southeast Asia, competing strongly with Malaysia-Truly Asia and Amazing Thailand.Which place, city or country, has the most resonant brand for you personally? Can you explain why? Two examples come to my mind from the research I’vebeen doing. First I’d like to mention the ‘solid’ example of the place brand created for the city-region ofEdinburgh in Scotland – Edinburgh, Inspiring Capital. The organisation Marketing Edinburgh Ltd, conducteda process of identifying the values and assets both of the city and of Scotland overall, identifying the brandelements, and defining the target audiences. However, the Edinburgh, Inspiring Capital campaign is more thanjust a logo. It seems for me that the campaign has achieved many of the objectives of an effective placebranding strategy. These include: attracting tourists; attracting more investment; attracting people andenhancing the economy of the city-region, pursuing development and creating dynamics. Events that takeplace in the city are example of these dynamics, such as the The Bootleg Film Festival for Edinburgh 2013.The coherent image and message of Edinburgh, Inspiring Capitalare also present and, for me, make it one ofthe best examples.
  4. 4. Another example is – I feel Slovenia, where some moreacademic research has been developed around the Slovenia country brand. I read some articles on this topicand I do identify a strong effort to build a brand. I feel Slovenia is based on a large-scale project developed infour phases and involves a range of key stakeholders who determined the foundations on which the brandidentity elements were built.In terms of the global stage, which country/city has the worst brand? Do you think it has any hope tochange this? That is an interesting question but also quite trickybecause I do not have a clear example of a ‘worst’ brand. There are a few examples of good place brandingprocess and a lot of bad examples where you cannot identify a solid or effective process that results in anintegrated place brand. Often the good examples are mentioned and the worst cases are hidden. I’d prefer tounderline the cases where mainly cities use “I Love (name of the city)” as the visible of a place brand insteadof name cases. But the question is: is there is any place brand on the back of that “I Love (…)”? I reallywonder because probably not and that only represents a sort of promotional initiative with minor attempts tocreate a place branding strategy and without the necessary authenticity. What is unique when we see a placecommunicating its assets based on one tagline as “I love (…)”?Which book would you recommend for anyone wanting to learn more about place branding?I totally recommend the book that explores several aspects of the theory and application of place brandingtitled – ‘Towards Effective Place Brand Management: Branding European Cities and Regions’ with thecontribution of top world experts in place branding and place management and edited by Gregory Ashworthand Mihalis Kavaratzis in 2010.I’d also like to recommend, for those who do more research in destination branding, the book – ‘DestinationBrands: Managing Place Reputation’ edited by Nigel Morgan, Annette Pritchard, and Roger Pride, 2011.After your PhD is complete, what kind of work do you plan to do?Honestly my everyday life as a researcher is guided by dreams, desires of better futures, high hopes andmotivation to always do something valuable. I’d really like to work as assistant professor/research assistant ina university in some developing countries giving my contribution to place branding and also strategic spatial
  5. 5. planning and in practical terms help develop their communities with my knowledge. Contributing with mymind, my ideas – sometimes controversial – as well as with my hands, my voice, my philosophy. Hoping insome way to make changes before it’s too late. I hope to stay connected with academic life and research.Thanks Eduardo, it’s been a pleasure to speak with you. Best of luck with the rest of your PhD!