Featuring the largest banking centres as well as the most important free trade areas in their respective regions and having both experienced a real estate boom of international resonance, Panama and Dubai have shared so far parallel developments and similar stories.
The Central American country has been based on a stable economy, remarkably resisting to the impact of the economic crisis, with a growth rated by the IMF among the highest in the Western hemisphere. Moreover, just like the cosmopolitan metropolis of the Gulf, Panama's absence of restrictions to foreign investments, the sophisticated system of assets protection laws, its consolidated political stability and the key and logistic importance of the Panama Canal boosted over the decades the investment attractiveness of the country.
Yet, despite the long list of appealing premises upholding its investment environment, Panama still represented an unexplored territory for investors from the UAE and the Gulf especially because of its underrated public image in the region.
Hence, bridge:media's main challenge mainly comprised of overcoming the Arab investors' natural cautiousness towards a new and therefore unknown investment channel. At the same time, it aimed at fostering the public image of a country with no previous promotional action undertaken in the Gulf.
bridge:media aimed at creating a new parallel comparison between Panama and Dubai. Thus, highlighting the similarities of the Gulf metropolis with its Central American counterpart was a key element of the overall strategy and contributed to shaping a trustable and familiar perception of Panama. The idea of Panama as the 'New Dubai on the American continent' was then systematically disseminated to media across the Gulf region.
This comparison between Panama and Dubai had never been employed on a public campaign for fostering mutual awareness between the two countries. Moreover, the media also overlooked the chance of promoting among the GCC audience a country with great economic potential, familiar traits but not yet established public image.
In addition, bridge:media aimed at reaching a target audience that does not only comprise of investors and businessmen from the Gulf, but also of GCC families wanting to enjoy the Dubai feel in a new body. Therefore, the strategy focused on encouraging visitors and travellers from the Gulf region to discover and appreciate the touristic locations offered by Panama and Central America.
Indeed, terrific landscapes, the diversified natural richness of the country and a very pleasant climate make of Panama an ideal holiday destination for tourists from GCC who were not yet familiar with the Panama's well established touristic sector.
The milestone of the implemented PR campaign was a public event organized in Dubai with the participation of representatives of the Panamanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. On this occasion, the government official's pointed out that the two countries could rely on strengthened relations and encouraged investments from GCC countries by remarking the main similarities employed also in the other stages of the communication campaign.
Finally, additional media exposure, based on the described communication and messaging strategy, was conceptualized through a comprehensive range of communication initiatives, including regular news flow, media relations, TV and radio initiatives and online marketing.
bridge:media consistently supported the endeavours of the Panamanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Gulf with a communication strategy specifically addressing this region. The public image of a new economic partner featuring innovative investment channels, but also familiar and established sectors was forged to target UAE and GCC investors.
Promoting Panama relied on two essential factors: firstly, portraying Panama as the 'New Dubai' for highlighting its safe and promising investment potential and secondly, underlining the touristic attractiveness of a Central American travel pearl, yet unknown to most of the Gulf travellers.
In conclusion, the ad-hoc shaped image of Panama provided a fresh and appealing subject to the UAE and Gulf press and secured a broad coverage of the campaign on national and regional media. The organized public event obtained a great participation from the media and business environment and was also televised in the UAE.
Thanks to the remarkable outreach achieved, the GCC awareness of a yet unexplored but important market such as Central America was tackled for the first time. It also achieved recognizable improvements in the nascent economic relations between the two regions.