marketing Uganda requires more common sense, imagination, preparation and seriousness

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AS a child I always found the examinations titled ‘General Paper’ intriguing and useful. I don’t recall really studying for it, but had to answer questions on a wide range of things that I always found more interesting than the regular subjects we were examined on.

I recall questions like, ‘What are the advantages to a country of hosting the World Cup?’ and answering them with relish even though I had no memory of class notes to rely on in providing my answers.

When I asked around for the rationale of this paper I was told that it was designed to broaden our scope of thinking; to make us more imaginative.

Later on in life, right up till last weekend, I often ponder that particular question and feel a little flabbergasted that we don’t appear to study this subject seriously enough.

Last Sunday the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) World Cross Country Championships 2017 were held in Kampala, as most people resident here only realised on the day itself.

There was a hue and cry in most circles about the lack of publicity – with at least one newspaper article published in the same space that had carried stories about this event for a number of weeks.

I was too busy to assess why the publicity was low in Kampala or Uganda, and I wasn’t clear about the communication objectives of the organisers of this – the biggest global sporting event Uganda had ever hosted. Ever.

Most countries try to ensure that global sporting events of this nature are heavily attended so that they showcase to the world at large how fun-loving, vibrant, colourful, entertaining and high-spirited their citizens are.

Sports, in general, makes the worlds of television, tourism, investment and marketing go round.

Anyone who doesn’t understand that sentence there must be stopped from getting involved in any initiative to do with Sports, Tourism, Investment and National Marketing at ANY level. From the managers of the events themselves to the people who should have sold hundreds of Rolexes to everyone who came into Uganda to be part of the IAAF World Cross Country Championships 2017.

The complaints about lack of publicity made sense on some level but cannot be blamed on the organisers themselves. The announcement that Kampala would host these races was made back in November 2014, and it was made public in the media and on the internet.

Still, for some reason there are Ugandans who believe that we constantly need to be reminded about things that we have already been told. Those are the same ones who will tell you that when you agree to hold a business meeting with them, you must additionally send them frequent reminders about the meeting.

We need fewer of these Ugandans in existence. More importantly, we need fewer of them in positions of authority and in the private sector.

Instead, we need to culture and develop Ugandans who will read all newspaper articles carefully with a view to identifying opportunities where they lie. Serious Ugandans, on reading back in 2014 that we would be hosting the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, would have taken many sensible steps.

Besides those who would have stepped up their training, like Kiplimo, and aimed to win a Gold Medal without paying for an air ticket to participate for glory in a far off land, the rest should have locked in the contacts of the IAAF (which sent, perhaps, a hundred officials) and the individual teams – the biggest number ever at 59 teams of more than 550 athletes.

A simple internet search reveals the email addresses of most of these teams within three clicks.

After getting those contacts, any hotel or tour company or rolex stand should have sent them offers and invitations directly to take up product and service offerings. And that only if the official organisations were incapable, unwilling or unable (for reasons that cannot be stated politely) to make the necessary connections.

In organised societies, the reasons large events such as these are managed by professionals running the national organisations in charge of marketing, investment and tourism, is because every time the world is focused on one country for an event it means billions of eyes and dollars are pointed there.

It was good that the website was visible on the bibs of the runners, but after that the people in charge should have ensured that the photos of the race winners as they cross the finishing line are posted EVERYWHERE AROUND THE WORLD.

Our planning for events of a national nature needs to be more pointed and take into account the objectives for which these events are staged in the first place.

Perhaps we need more of these people to study ‘General Paper’ – common sense studies that build the imagination.

12 thoughts on “marketing Uganda requires more common sense, imagination, preparation and seriousness

  1. I love your thoughts on marketing, sports, and how they reflect the self government of Uganda! Cheers from the US.
    One question: why does your title read the way it does when your English in the rest of the blog is impeccable? I’d suggest you change your title to something more descriptive, like “How Uganda Could Have Marketed Global Sports to Increase National Tourism”.
    Thanks for the informative read.


    1. 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion. I deliberately take the title down the simplest thought path possible to keep things casual from the onset; once people get into the party they get to discover they should have dressed up better <—mixing analogies there, as blogging allows us to do, but I'm sure you catch the drift!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love Simon’s thoughts about yet another missed opportunity to extensively market Uganda with a view to harness the full benefits of sports tourism. You however don’t seek answers as to why things played out the way they did.
    That glaring omission and the choice of title as Paul wonders (& I totally understand where you are coming from), give room for defensiveness on the part of those concerned. I would love to see these good thoughts recieve the props they deserve


    1. Thanks Apollo. I actually don’t seek answers as to why things played out the way they did because that gives people the opportunity to provide excuses and relax. I am hoping we wake up and do things better whenever we get these chances.


  3. I think the discovery of a missed opportunity should not be taken lightly, I see in Simon’s article more of a postmortem but then again we could learn from the lost (may be not all was lost) opportunity to work together to achieve results of satisfying nature.

    I see a lack of leadership on the drumming up support to the big event but then again, who should have risen to the occasion? When events of this nature come to a country where do we start, remember many citizens are followers and may need to be organized, we have young but fast growing tourism & small trade sectors.. How about the leadership tasked with the management of sports? Many questions may come to mind but “leadership” may have been limited.

    Did anyone visualize and share the potential that this event would bring?

    To me publicity would have been better if we were organized as stakeholders public and private, publicity would be automatic…. What do you publish when you have not seen and prepared for the opportunities.

    Then again we can’t cut the private sector that slack and say they always need to be guided, I think we have a culture of being lukewarm to unexplored territories, we are so much in our comfort zone because of the wealth we have enjoyed for so long the easy access to food, shelter and clothing (did I say that?) yes Uganda is/was one of the countries where one can/could always eat, sleep well & enjoy some basics even with out an income.

    The power of extended families and friendly neighborliness did not allow for one to go hungry while others ate, this still happens in rural areas it is fading in the cities and of course rightly so we need to embrace the culture of working for your share…

    So again even the private groups did not prepare, we need a paradigm shift in thinking, creating working groups for such cross cutting activities and more not just publicity!


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