Sharpen Your Pencils, Marketers, Zambia Needs a New Tagline

The good news: The hardworking folks at Zambia Tourism have decided they need a new tagline that’ll get people to come and visit. The bad news: The new tagline still has to be about Zambia.

Apparently, some recent marketing research came back suggesting that the old tagline—“Zambia, the real Africa”—just wasn’t cutting it anymore. We’re just guessing, but the trouble might have been that the “real Africa,” in Zambia’s case, didn’t just mean glossy-brochure stuff like wild elephant safaris and Victoria Falls, but other noisome tidbits like police brutality, underage marriage and drug-resistant TB.

Suffice it to say that it’s going to take a marketer of considerable talents to pull off this rebranding job, and that’s probably why Zambia Tourism has decided to broaden its search to, uh, everyone on Earth. The new tagline will be chosen via a global contest. (Oh, and if you happen to draw logos, Zambia needs one of those, too.) After all, chances are someone in the world’s 7 billion people can cook up a catchy phrase for Zambia that will, as the press release instructs, “reposition the country as a bucket-list destination.”

Buckets can be useful for a lot of things, and the Zambia Tourism Web site already does a pretty decent job with the shoveling. For example, it cheerfully informs would-be visitors that “Zambia’s welcoming people live in peace and harmony”—this despite a 2008 State Department report that warns of unlawful killings, torture, beatings, arbitrary arrests, forced labor and government corruption. The site encourages visitors to “get a glimpse of village life”—even though, according to one United Nations official, “marrying off young girls is a tradition here.” And it promises “a wide range of hi-action activities”—y’know, maybe like watching the police hang suspects from the ceiling and beat them to coerce confessions, which Human Rights Watch contends is “routine police practice” in Zambia.

So, marketers, you’d better get creative (entries go to: brandzambia@zambiatourism.org.zm). And if Zambia Tourism likes your tagline, you’ll get a 15-day, $30,000 trip for two to the country. Them’s good winnings, too, given that the average Zambian annual income is $295. Our entry? “Zambia: Better stay home.”