Rebranding Libya – A Daily Show Approach

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Guest Article by Efe Sevin

In this video, John Oliver of the Daily Show, helps Ali Suleiman Aujali to rebrand Libya. First of all, it was nice to hear the concepts of brand, nation, and country together in a popular show! And secondly, Aujali’s reactions are quite important in understanding the obstacles place branding scholars and practitioners face.


Let me list a couple of points extracted from this humorous video.

I work for Libya : The former ambassador says that he does not work for Gaddafi, but for Libya. One should understand (i) the continuum in branding processes, and (ii) how the nation is placed above the governors.

Awareness : Oliver uses several examples to explain why there is a need for a new brand. Locals should be aware what is wrong with the current image, and why there is a need for a change. (Quick note: I highly doubt using scenes from Back to the Future will help in all cases. )

Rebranding = Renaming : Oliver proposes new names for Libya, including Zazzistan and Oilfrica and a new flag. This superficial conception of branding stands as a great obstacle for both scholars and practitioners.

Zazzistan: Aujali simply says no way… (Leave aside the impossibility of rebranding a country simply by changing its name) Locals are not willing to change their symbols. A similar dynamic between Oliver and Aujali is observed when Oliver proposes a new flag for the country.

Oilfrica: If I cannot pronounce it, how can you make me like it? This was the most striking phrase in the interview for me. Everything you create (a policy, a logo, a message, anything) should be understood and embraced by the locals. If they don’t understand it, they won’t like it. If they don’t like it, they won’t support it.

Beautiful colors, beautiful star…: That is my flag, Aujali says, that is the independence flag. You cannot take branding attempts out of the historical context of a place.

Shortly, a place branding campaign is a complex process. As a scholar or a practitioner, we should always be aware that this process takes place in a social, historical, cultural, and political context. Thank you Jon Stewart, John Oliver, and Ali Suleiman Aujali for the enlightening interview….

About Efe

I read and write about political communication stuff and I play with data to see what they have to say. I also love to cook.
This entry was posted in miscellaneous, opinions, pick of the day and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Rebranding Libya – A Daily Show Approach

  1. Great analysis Efe, formulating some serious implications out of something that is supposedly just meant to be funny. Well done.

  2. Efe says:

    Thank you for your kind words Dr. Govers.

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