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Why Improving Relations with Cuba Makes Marketing Sense
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Say what you like about President Obama in regards to his politics — we are not here to defend nor criticize him on that front — but the way Obama looks at expanding or improving American business interests worldwide is something to be commended. Just about 90 miles south of Florida, there is a little island with a lot of potential. The government saw that the relationship we currently have — the embargo — isn't providing the results it was looking for, and now with the changing business scenery, and a renewed determination to attain assets, the executive branch wants to redefine the terms.

This is not unusual in the corporate world, but when the government does it, the act looks a little odd.

For the marketing world, this is a great move.

Americans are anxiously awaiting the ease of travel restrictions to Cuba. If we're smart, AdLand should already be preparing and working with Havana and the many travel and tourism bodies to make sure AdLand doesn't stir up too much demand. 

Think about it: With very few ad dollars being spent on Cuban travel, it is reported that between 400,000–600,000 Americans visited Cuba. These visitors are going through the U.S. "people-to-people" cultural exchange programs, or through other means, like traveling through Canada or Mexico.

If travel opens up for more leisure activities, this could lift all ships in the marketing, hotel, and tourism industries between the U.S. and Cuba. And that's a very good thing.

Now, though we are familiar with the business climate in the U.S., the question regarding creative expression and commercial speech in Cuba is still open. Freedom House still gives Cuba a "not free" rating in regards to free press and freedom of speech, and Cuba was left off Forbes' 147-country list of "best countries for business."

So there's work to do.

But in America, we can get started. When we thought of advertising for Cuba, and Havana specifically, we thought of the old DDB ad for Jamaica:

Of course, marketers could highlight other elements that Havana and Cuba could provide.

How exciting to have an opportunity to campaign in a new, close market.  

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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