Flanked by members of his cabinet, lawmakers and private sector representatives, Gov. Alejandro García-Padilla signed a law Tuesday to begin taking formal steps toward creating permanent branding for the island, which is expected to be shielded from political changes or administrative whims.
Through the “Marca País” (“National Brand”) law, the government has constituted a 15-member committee comprised of public and private sector representatives to come up with an ID for the island that should be ready in the next 12 months, the governor said during a morning news conference at La Fortaleza.
“Our ‘National Brand’ will not represent a government. Our ‘National Brand’ will represent economic development, global positioning and investment in our future. Our ‘National Brand’ will surpass any advertising campaign because it is a distinctive identity,” García-Padilla said.
The statute will establish an image for Puerto Rico that projects it as a strong destination in tourism and other economic areas. Furthermore, the law establishes that it “is necessary for the government to adopt a public policy that strengthens the initiatives to promote the island’s image globally through the official adoption of a brand.”
Major identity crisis
For several decades, Puerto Rico has suffered a major identity crisis, given that none of the slogans used in advertising campaigns have ever stuck for longer than a four-year term — with some administrations unveiling multiple slogans in their 48-month tenures. Aside from being widely known as the “Island of Enchantment,” Puerto Rico has historically never had a distinctive brand.
For the better part of the last two years, the Puerto Rico Hotel and Tourism Association lobbied for the creation of a Destination Management Organization, an independent entity that would have been in charge of Puerto Rico’s marketing efforts. That concept found support in the previous administration, but did not fly with the García-Padilla team that took office in January.
During the news conference, House Speaker Jaime Perelló, who penned the measure that became law, said a permanent brand for Puerto Rico will “define what will be our future economic development. Puerto Rico now has a law that is an affirmative action in favor of our growth in a global economy.”
The committee responsible for creating the branding comprises 11 members, namely: the Economic Development and Commerce secretary, who will chair the group; the Tourism Company executive director; a representative from the PRHTA; a representative from the Puerto Rico Convention Bureau; two representatives of the island’s business and commercial sectors; a representative of the island’s cultural and historical sector with more than 10 years of experience; two representatives from the academic sector; a representative from the Sales and Marketing Association; and a representative from the Puerto Rico Small Inns Association. The governor will name all.
Meanwhile, the committee’s work is not expected to place an additional burden on the budget, as it will receive 5 percent of the funds assigned for advertising and marketing efforts for the following agencies: Economic Development, Tourism, Rones de Puerto Rico, the Convention Bureau, Puerto Rico Trade and Export, the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company, and the Film Commission.