Industry Update
Press Release11 November 2005

Italy, U.S. and Australia Rank Highest as Country Brands

Leading Global Brand Consultancy, FutureBrand, in Conjunction with Weber Shandwick's Global Travel Practice, Releases New Index That Examines Countries as Brands

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FutureBrand

NEW YORK & LONDON | Italy ranks as the top overall destination, according to a first-of-its-kind global survey released today that identifies countries as brands and suggests the pivotal role that branding could make in helping countries differentiate themselves. Australia and the U.S. take the second and third positions in the FutureBrand Country Brand Index, which is comprised of a three-tiered analysis of statistics*, a global quantitative survey, and expert opinions of international travel professionals**.

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Launching simultaneously with this year's World Travel Market - the annual exhibition of the global travel trade industry in London - the report examines the role and opportunity to market a country as a brand, and ranks countries according to a variety of measures. This year's index includes rankings, as well as emerging trends, travel motivations, challenges and opportunities within the world's second largest industry - travel and tourism. These include China as "most improved" country brand, the U.S. as "best country brand for business travel" and Italy as "best country brand for art and culture."

"If a 'brand' is defined as an experience, then some of the world's most powerful and recognizable brands should be countries. The challenge the industry faces is that it must move away from the traditional reactive and tactical marketing approaches and instead, create and deliver an overall brand experience that drives sales and turns visitors into country-brand evangelists," said Rene A. Mack, president of Weber Shandwick's global travel practice.

"Based on our years of experience in this category, we are excited to launch the FutureBrand Country Brand Index. Countries have traditionally under-performed and under-achieved as brands, despite enormous potential," notes Jean-Louis Dumeu, chairman, chief executive officer, FutureBrand. "We hope this study promotes dialogues, raises questions and encourages countries to look at themselves in a whole new way. A strong country brand will offer nations a tremendous competitive advantage and help build long term opportunity for business, tourism, exports and investment."

FutureBrand, a leading global brand consultancy, in conjunction with sister company and leading global public relations firm, Weber Shandwick, intend the study to become an annual occurrence. The initiative was led by Rina Plapler, executive director, FutureBrand, and involved a variety of FutureBrand's global offices and disciplines.

To receive a copy of this year's survey, please visit or contact Rina Plapler at [email protected] or 1-212-931-6443. For media inquires, contact Rene Mack at [email protected] or 1-212-445-8123.

About FutureBrand: FutureBrand () is a leading strategic brand development firm that commands a global presence spanning 21 offices in 17 countries. Partnering with the world's leading companies, FutureBrand helps its clients to develop profitable brands both today and into the future. Offering a full range of services from consumer branding and corporate identity, to brand identity, packaging design and beyond, FutureBrand works with clients to measure and increase brand value, define breakthrough brand strategies and create powerful brand experiences. Clients include P&G, Microsoft, InBev, Intel, Nokia, Nestle, MasterCard, UPS, and Unilever. FutureBrand also has extensive international expertise in destination and country branding, including working with Singapore, Australia, Mexico, South African Airways, British Airways, Guernsey Islands, and Dubai Waterfront.

About Weber Shandwick: Weber Shandwick is one of the world's leading global public relations agencies with offices in major media, business and government capitals around the world. In 2005 Weber Shandwick was named "Agency of the Year" by PRWeek US and The Holmes Report, "International Consultancy of the Year" by PRWeek UK, and "Consultancy of the Year" (Hong Kong office) at the Asia Pacific PR Awards. Weber Shandwick also is Advertising Age's highest-rated public relations firm. The agency is a leader in marketing public relations, public affairs and corporate communications counseling, and also provides services in advocacy advertising, market research and visual communications. Find out more at www.webershandwick.com.

FutureBrand and Weber Shandwick are units of The Interpublic Group of Companies (NYSE: IPG), which is among the world's largest advertising and marketing services organizations.

* Statistics were gathered from trade organizations, government agencies, travel industry organizations and secondary sources.

** Travel professionals include writers, editors, travel analysts, travel agents, travel industry professionals (PR, marketing), travel organization professionals and hospitality experts.
Related Document

Country Brand Index 2005

Insights, Findings and Country Rankings. As a forward-thinking global brand consultancy, FutureBrand has helped an array of countries and destinations build strong brands. But while we see some countries making tremendous strides in the area of branding, the category as a whole is under-developed and under-performing. Having spent countless hours interviewing consumers, business travelers, meeting planners, government officials and agencies, travel professionals, analysts and associations, we have acquired a unique perspective on the world of country branding.
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Rina Plapler
FutureBrand
Phone: 212-931-6443
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