Building 'brand India'

A four-hour Bollywood song and dance spectacular capped a $4 million marketing and PR campaign by India at this year's World Economic Forum at Davos. The "India Everywhere" campaign was aimed at rebranding the sub-continent as an attractive destination for foreign investment, an emerging manufacturing hub and a credible business partner.

by Knowledge@Wharton, 8-21 February 2006
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

It certainly made an impact: a huge billboard extolling India's "one direction" and "6% average annual economic growth over the past 15 years" greeted delegates arriving at Zurich airport. Among them were Dell chairman Michael Dell and NYSE chief executive John Thain.

Awareness of the message was boosted by the 110 Indian business leaders and government officials attending the forum - taking part in 200 meetings and speaking in 60 sessions - which was substantially more than in recent years.

Some 22 Indian companies funded the campaign, some paying more than $150,000 for promotional costs at what is, after all, only a five-day event. Was it worth it? Only time will tell. One obvious measure is foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, estimated at $7billion in 2005. Some campaign organisers are looking to see this double to $15billion in three years. Increased awareness of the country's efforts at economic liberalisation and the freer environment for investors are another, less tangible benefit.

But as with any advertising, a big challenge is for the product to live up to the branding. Indian business leaders are among the first to argue that India also needs to keep changing: deregulating, privatising, reforming labour law, implementing corporate governance norms and cutting corruption.

Of course, cynics could argue that the real significance of "India Everywhere" was that it needed to be done at all. The growth story of China, which is shortly expected to overtake the US as India's biggest trading partner, could be said to speak for itself.

Source: Delhi in Davos: how India built its brand at the World Economic Forum
Knowledge@Wharton, 8-21 February 2006

Review by Steve Lodge

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