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World Cup berth gives TT a great marketing tool
Posted: Wednesday, November 23, 2005

By George Alleyne, Newsday TT

The 2006 World Cup berth secured by Trinidad and Tobago last Wednesday has provided this country with a powerful marketing tool, which if fully exploited, should attract a groundswell of visitor traffic and additional major and medium investors as well as an expanded international interest in our culture and the arts.

In turn, the team's name, Soca Warriors, will market Soca to tens of millions of viewers of FIFA's World Cup matches, wherever Trinidad and Tobago's national footballers play, in much the same manner that the description of the Jamaican team to the 1998 World Cup as the Reggae Boyz helped to popularise Reggae. Leading steelbands and soca artistes should accompany the Soca Warriors, not only to World Cup encounters but to warm up matches as well.

Crucial to the optimising of the opportunities offered must be the development of a marketing plan embodying clear cut objectives and strategies, in much the same way that the 1950 Aid to Pioneer Industries Ordinance and the Income Tax (In Aid of Industry) Ordinance embraced carefully worked out objectives and strategies. It is a matter of record that the Pioneer Aid intervention of 1950 would prove to be the marketing tool which would help create a needed, positive investment climate and job opportunities when a relative few years later the world would be hit by a post Korean War recession.

This time around, globalisation has made the economic situation far worse for Trinidad and Tobago and other developing nations. Indeed, it is only this country's not insubstantial reserves of crude and natural gas which today make a critical difference. But the reserves will not last forever and it is important that Trinidad and Tobago positions itself to attract, in addition to the energy and energy based majors, and spin off industries medium and small manufacturers as well as investor interest in the world of Information Technology.

The relevant Government ministries should seek to take advantage (forgive the cliche) of any interest generated by the Soca Warriors. They must package what the country has to offer and how they see Trinidad and Tobago down the road. The Ministry of Trade, for example, should have a plan to tap into new markets even as it further develops existing markets piggybacking on the groundswell of interest. In turn, it must generate interest.

It should be clearly understood, however, that the mere presence of Trinidad and Tobago at the World Cup in June-July 2006, should not by itself be enough to carry even the best of marketing plans forward. Our footballers in addition to their continuing to receive the excellent coaching which has taken them to the World Cup finals in Germany, will have to be properly motivated. Our Soca Warriors must go out on the German football fields as a Team David eager and well equipped to do battle with the several Goliaths, undaunted. Any wins or draws by them will, regardless of the teams they oppose, should be exploited to give full meaning to any marketing thrust.

In turn, they should be told, perhaps the term is reminded, that they are Ambassadors of their country and the same disciplined restraint displayed in those crucial moments toward the end of their match in Bahrain should be what must guide and identify them.

In marketing, the more positive the approach, and the more positive the packaged product, the greater the impact.

It is not that I seek to have our footballers who will play in the 2006 World Cup packaged, but they should understand that when they run out on the several fields next year, they must do it pro patria (for country).

This will make the job of the logical heirs to those who gave to Trinidad and Tobago the 1950 Aid to Pioneer Industries Ordinance that much easier and incidentally, that much more successful.

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