Have you ever visited Norway? How much do you know about, or hear about, Norway? What if the only information you had about Norway was like that in this video–that people there were cold and needed help–how would that shape your perception of the country?
Radi-Aid is a charity project by Africa for Norway–and a total spoof. While Norway does have a cold climate, it’s also a very wealthy nation, with the second highest GDP per capita in the world. Most likely, the people of Norway are in fine economic shape and don’t need charity heaters donated from Africa.
This spoof has a serious side: the information that we see, and the marketing promotion we are exposed to, shapes our perception. If all we hear about Africa is that people are starving, governments are corrupt, and the wildlife is being slaughtered, what sort of image do we have of Africa? In marketing terms, what does this do to the brand of Africa?
Africa is the second largest continent and home to one billion people. In all that area and population, any journalist can find stories of poverty and corruption. Africa also has universities, entrepreneurs, and artists. Some village struggle with food security; others are installing innovative renewable energy systems. But you’re more likely to hear poverty and famine stories from Africa than installation rates of village solar power systems.
This effect plays out closer to home, as well. For instance, it’s likely that you’ve never visited Mississippi, but you have an opinion of the state shaped by the news and history you’ve been told. How has that information and promotion shaped your perception of the state?
(And personally, when I think of Norway, I think about the goofy jokes about Norway and moose in the opening credits of “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”)