Minority Assemblyman Farley Augustine is calling on Tourism Secretary Nadine Stewart Phillips to explain how Tobago’s marketing tagline, ‘Tobago, Beyond Ordinary’ appears similar to Anguilla’s ‘It’s Beyond Extraordinary.’
“I am certain millions of dollars were spent in this campaign…I hope Mrs Stewart Phillips would come and address Tobagonians and apologise to Tobagonians for this extremely horrendous mistake and chart for us a new direction,” he said at the Minority Council’s press conference at James Park on Tuesday.
Augustine also wants to know the cost of the project to come up with this tagline, and how thorough was the research that went into it.
His call follows lively discussions on social media following postings last weekend on the similarity of the taglines, and Tobago Tourism Agency’s Chief Executive Officer Louis Lewis insistence on Monday that “there is like no way in any way that we copied any of their (Anguilla) strategies, we are absolutely clear on that.”
Contending that the similarity was “beyond embarrassing, beyond humiliating that we must now compete in a region and look like we have a twin other than Trinidad,” Augustine said:
“That is bad for business, it’s bad for tourism and so we have to do better than that. The reality is that this THA (Tobago House of Assembly) as of January 2019 would be two years old and we took two years to come up with a slogan that is almost the same as another island. To me that sounds ridiculous but ridiculous is what you get when PNM is in charge.”
Augustine queried the research done on the project.
“What was absolutely necessary in this entire process was that someone should have just sat down and Google the branding strategies and the campaign slogans of the other Caribbean territories… how come we did not look at what the rest of the Caribbean is doing?
“We could have offered something that was extremely unique, that was different, that was a cut about the rest and that’s how you differentiate your product, that’s how you package a product that is marketable and so at this juncture I don’t know how transformational the slogan, ‘Tobago, Beyond Ordinary, will be given that Tobagonians have wakened up to the reality that another Caribbean territory is more or less using a similar branding strategy,” he said.
“We would like to know how much money we paid that company because at this point Tobago should be looking back for some of its money, it clearly wasn’t a job well done.
He also called into question the competence of Tobago Tourism Agency’s chief executive officer Louis Lewis.
“The kind of extensive research that Mr Lewis is claiming that they have done, clearly have fallen short because he raises more questions than answers.
“I would have been understanding if perhaps Anguilla launched their campaign a day before us, a week before us, up to a month before us but for them to have launched their programme in March and ours in October and we still come up with such striking similarities, then it means that we did not do our homework and our research skills were poor and so the Agency must take some flak for that,” he said.
At a press conference on Monday to address charges of plagiarism, Lewis defended the slogan, ‘Tobago, Go Beyond Ordinary,’ saying it was the result of a careful, studied approach.
He said a United Kingdom firm, Gravity Global, won the bid for branding the destination, and that this was not the company by Anguilla.
“ I verified, double checked, triple checked that the company we used did not engage in any other Caribbean island’s brand strategy or marketing activity,” he said.
Lewis said he was unaware of Anguilla’s tagline, though he also noted that in the development of the brand, “we kept a very close eye on what everybody else was doing … all warm weather destinations just to ensure that there was no duplication…
Lewis also argued that TTAL’s launch was done on November 5, while Anguilla’s launch was on December 11.
“It’s like them coming after us so there is like no way in any way that we copied any of their strategies, we are absolutely clear on that. What I think transpired for the similar tagline for Anguilla may just be a coincidental occurrence,” he contended. He said TTAL does have contact with the agency in Anguilla, meeting several times a year at Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) events and that he will have discussions with them “at the right time.”
Asked about the cost of the rebranding - from Tobago’s log-standing tagline of ‘Clean Green Serene’ to ‘Beyond Ordinary,’ Lewis said he could not give a figure because the exercise was part of a bigger process – the marketing strategy – which involves a social media component, the development of a website, the brand, placement purchase of keywords and artwork.