The Mauritian tourist board has replaced its old strapline (’Mauritius – Unforgettable experience’) with a new one: ‘Mauritius – C’est un plaisir’. The new branding, apparently designed to reflect the island’s French cultural influence, has been greeted locally with “perplexity and scepticism”, according to journalist Bhishmadev Seebaluck.
There is incredulity at the cost. The slogan was dreamt up by London-based marketing agency Acanchi for a reported 31m Mauritian rupees (£625,000). That works out at almost £50,000 per letter.
Apparently Fiona Gilmore, a director at Acanchi, appeared on Mauritian TV to defend the branding. She said that the actual slogan was just 5pc of the entire marketing campaign, or “the tip of the branding iceberg,” said Mr Seebaluck.
Sean Carey, an anthropologist who writes extensively about Mauritius, said that ‘C’est un plaisir’ is “weak and bland” and “too slippery and ambiguous” to be effective.
But how does the Mauritius tagline compare with other countries’? A quick trot around the internet shows that Mauritius does not have a monopoly on meaningless straplines.
There are two distinct camps in the tourism slogan arena. The most common uses a two-word structure, prefixing the country with a simple adjective or verb; Amazing Thailand, Enjoy England, Incredible India, Magical Kenya. These words appear to be totally interchangeable. I very much doubt, for example, that visitor numbers to India and Kenya would collapse if it was India that was Magical and Kenya that was Incredible.
Then there is the ‘pithy phrase’ camp; Brazil – Sensational!, Seychelles – Another world, Germany - Simply inspiring, The Kingdom of Swaziland - A royal experience, Hawaii – The islands of Aloha, and (an oldie) Australia – So where the bloody hell are you? Again, largely meaningless.
Some countries try too hard to be clever. New Zealand’s new wink-wink-nudge-nudge slogan is ‘Go all the way’, which is a clear attempt to sex up one of the world’s more staid countries.
Others are unintentionally hilarious. I am sure that the Colombian tourism ministry did not see the double meaning when it settled on ‘Columbia – The only risk is wanting to stay’.
Bearing all this in mind, Mauritius’s little French slogan doesn’t seem so bad.