The path to recognition
20 January 2011
As the newest state on the block with the youngest population in Europe, Kosovo has a lot to shout about, though it has some hurdles to pass first.
Kosovo only declared its independence in 2008. Although more than 70 countries have recognised that fact, it is still disputed – not least by its Serbian neighbours and their allies in Russia. The task of effective “nation branding” has therefore never been so important, if Kosovars are to have any hope of achieving their goals of freedom, independence and accession to the UN.
Their efforts have already been recognised – their campaign ‘Young Europeans’ won in the inaugural ‘Best Nation/Place Branding Campaign’ at the M&M Awards in September. Government spokesman Memli Krasniqi was full of praise for its creators Saatchi & Saatchi.
“Kosovo was in the media, but not for the right reason. The image of Kosovo has been unjustly twisted by Serbia for many years,” Krasniqi explains. “When people heard about Kosovo, they didn’t think of the country as one with a very vibrant population – it has the youngest population in Europe – and with great resources, and great potential.”
The fact that 60% of Kosovars are younger than 35 was something Saatchi & Saatchi picked up on, which helped it win a tender that initially had 10 interested parties. “A campaign that focused on the beautiful landscape, or a historical spot was not enough for us. This was not a tourism campaign.”
“Our twofold mission is to tell the world what Kosovo is and what it has to offer,” he adds, pointing to the resources that will drive growth. Its coal reserves and ski resorts are two examples.
Crucially, the government is backing up communications efforts with regulatory reforms and developments in infrastructure. It is also working with the UN to establish a visa approval process – something which has taken 5-10 years for Kosovo’s neighbours to do.
The ‘Young Europeans’ campaign has achieved a great deal for Kosovo. This success will lead to diversification in the approach and the media it uses. But Kosovo continues to have many challenges – political, economic and social. Krasniqi is adamant that it will continue to work on its image. “We must be consistent in any branding efforts,” he says. “We’re a start-up country, rather than a start-up company.”
Kosovo quick download
The Republic of Kosovo was formed on 17 February 2008
The average age of Kosovo’s 2.2m population is 25.9, making it the youngest country in Europe
Kosovo has three official languages: Albanian, Serbian and English
With the Euro as its currency, Kosovo’s GDP in 2009 was: €3.792bn ($5.058bn). GDP growth of 3.8% was mostly driven by private sector growth
In June 2009, Kosovo became a member of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Negotiations are currently underway for a trade agreement with the EU
Kosovo has three licensed internet providers and 21% of the population currently has access to the internet
In 2007 there were 562,000 mobile subscribers, compared to current fixed-line connections of 135,000