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Strong brands make a strong economy

By Dimitris Ioannides The current economic crisis – and the uncertainty that comes with it – has had a tremendous impact on Cyprus and it must make us tenacious when it comes to finding ways out of this negative situation. Over the past 3 weeks, we’ve witnessed chain reaction effects due to the harsh decisions taken. However, the time has come to acknowledge and accept facts. Mistakes were made (unacceptable mistakes, but they happened nevertheless). The days that followed should not have found us accusing (at least in the private sector)… but instead we should have been processing ways out of the deadlock, setting scenarios and making unemotional decisions. The need to reconfirm a more flexible short term or long term strategy must be the next and most immediate step. What are the facts? How have they affected the business of each company? How can a business continue its operations in its current state or even as a new, different model? How are partners and consumers affected by these developments? Despite warnings, the decisions taken hit a (mostly) unprepared business world. The immediate reaction was ‘freeze everything until we figure out what happened and to what extent it affects us’. This reaction made sense for many, but brought with it a series of chain reactions that now mean the system is being hit by hard blows from abroad as well as locally. The communications sector, especially advertising, is almost completely frozen. Budgets have been withdrawn… collaborations moved to a future date… campaigns set aside. As Stelios Anastasiades, Chairman of the Cyprus Communications Agencies Association, said ‘… most planned actions for April have either been cancelled or moved to a future date,’ adding that: ‘… foreign brands continue to be advertised while local brands aren’t, with local brands losing ground’. The above is a clear cut position. Once again, Cypriot products and services are suffering against foreign and more flexible brands. Years of investment in communications has practically been erased, pushing up brands that at times of crisis dare to go out and speak to the consumer… to the targeted audience… exuding confidence which translates to consumption and sales. Strong brands are necessary to boost the economy, but the system’s weaknesses must become a lesson for the future. At some point, responsibilities will be assumed. But the past is gone. The future lies ahead. Dimitris Ioannides is General Manager Cyprus, Action Global Communications and member of the board of SDEK

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