Friday, December 3, 2010

Jamaica Jamaica

There used to be a hotel on the north coast in Runaway Bay named Jamaica Jamaica until its name was changed. The facility is still in use today. There is perhaps some regret over that change in name done years ago because as it turns out the name is a powerful brand name. Hindsight is 20/20 vision we are often reminded.

Much of this blog has been focused on extracting value out of the Jamaican brand and particularly doing so by investing in Jamaican creativity and culture. I have previously referenced Prof. Vanus James' August 2007 study for the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) that shows,

Each dollar of foreign exchange invested in the leading elements of the core copyright sector contributes about J$6.18 of value added to Jamaica, mainly in the form of wages and indirect taxes. These elements are: authors, music composers, and independent artistes in allied activities (not music); authors, music composers, and independent artistes in the core music industry; dance studios; and theater and related entertainment services. Each dollar invested yields as much as J$6.57 in certain partial copyright sectors, such as manufacture of other leather products, luggage and handbags, footwear… and boots and shoes from leather fabrics and other materials… [read branded merchandise]. On the other hand, the same dollar of foreign exchange in communications (say, cable television) yields only J$1.49.

He added, “this simple arithmetic” makes a compelling case.

Two recent publications in the Jamaica Observer newspaper have prompted me to write this installment. One being their Wednesday, December 8 article titled Jamaica? Big Problem! and the other being Usain Bolt is our key brand asset - Puma.

Jamaica? Big Problem!
In this article the writer shares with us the story of a French band that is excited about using the Jamaica name and quotes one rather irrationally exuberant member as saying, "our choice is, of course, a homage to Jamaican music." It is within Jamaica's right to feel wronged by what the band and others like them have done, but we should not pretend that it could not have been mitigated.

I am unable at this point to say what the registration status of the JAMAICA trademark is with the Jamaica Intellectual Property Office (JIPO), however, a visit to the US government’s trademark registration site reveals that the JAMAICA used by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) is a registered trademark in the US. So too is the term "no problem" in select classes, but the latter is not owned by any agent of Jamaica. Curiously, I do not recall seeing the insertion of the “TM” or ® symbol when the trademark is used by the JTB, at least up to the time of this writing. The US government website reveals that this registration was done through the services of a US based attorney for use solely in Class 35 – Advertising and business. I do not know if registration in other classes was discussed, but given the distinction of the Jamaica name it should surely have been a consideration for registration in as many classes and across as many jurisdictions as is possible, providing the respective international treaties do not offer this protection. Is it a possibility that further protection against brand poachers could have been assured if the name were registered in some of the following: Class 25 (Clothing), 28 (Toys and sporting goods), 29 (Meats and processed foods), 30 (Staple foods), 41 (Education and entertainment), 43 (Hotels and restaurants)? I suspect that this move was made in the absence of a policy as to how the state will approach the registration of its intellectual property internationally. It would appear that what we see unfolding is the result of the absence or the lack of implementation of such a policy. Failure in the system is evident and wringing of the hands is unacceptable. Which department of the Jamaican government will be given the responsibility for registering these elements of the state’s property? In an earlier blog I pointed to the example of how New York City achieves this. There are other options as well.

It is my firm opinion that moving the Jamaica brand forward is not going to be led solely by the Jamaican state. Instead, it will take a strong partnership between a visionary private sector and the state. Indeed, there are some things that the state will need to do in order to facilitate private enterprise taking full advantage of what the Jamaica brand can offer. My hope is that the authorities and investors can arrive at the same page in short order.

Usain Bolt is our key brand asset - Puma
The Jamaica Observer on December 3, 2010 carried a story saying, "global athletics brand Puma listed Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt as its key brand-asset amidst a 16 per cent rise in sales to 784 million euros over the third-quarter." This is good news no matter how you may choose to look at it. Jamaicans should be happy for Usain Bolt and they should be proud of the development work done in Jamaica for athletic talent. The question is, if Usain Bolt is Pumas key brand asset then what is his value to the broad Jamaican economy? What does this say of the contribution that could be made if a structured approach to the business of sports and entertainment were made priority? What is the real value of the Jamaican culture (lifestyle, if you will) broadly? Many in the world have been curious about the world that Jamaica made™; much of it due to the marriage of a rich music heritage with rastafari philosophy that the brilliance of Bob Marley and others made untouchable by the local detractors. The sun, sand and sea have their place, even with the focus on a "non-invested" client that spends less, but the evidence that suggests what is in demand globally is overwhelming. Consumers across the world are buying into the Jamaican people; their skills, talents and the culture that spawns them. What then is the plan to extract this value?

In his December 10, 2010 article Jamaica's new growth path, Dennis Chung lauds the effort being put into agriculture and agro-processing by the minister responsible. With the visibility that Jamaican sports and entertainment have earned, how does one effectively marry that to agro-processing? The silos need to be dismantled and meaningful engagement of all sectors started because the greatest chance of success at exporting processed goods is by taking full advantage of the brand equity; and this is not simply label slapping as too many of the Jamaican labeled products that are presently on the market are not well conceived, packaged and delivered. To rescue Puma's quote from oblivion by denial I will repeat it, "Puma views its brand image as key to its marketing of apparel, clothing and footwear," and the Jamaican lifestyle is a big part of that image by their own admission. How then does Jamaica tap into the same Jamaican source as Puma? The bottom line is the Jamaican image, challenged as it is by the negatives, moves products in the international marketplace at present. The days of speculating about the value of the Jamaican culture and entertainment product should be rapidly coming to a close.

‎One reviewer in commenting on Amar Bhide's The Venturesome Economy: How Innovation Sustains Prosperity in a More Connected World noted, "wealth arises not so much from creating new technological [scientific or cultural] breakthroughs as from the capacity to benefit from those breakthroughs. This 'capacity to benefit' is a higher order capacity that includes elements such as the ability to create products based on those technological breakthroughs [and] the ability to market those products well." If this is so, then it would appear that opportunities abound in the world that Jamaica made™.


PS. Click this link for an explanation of how the Classes as referred to in the post above are structured. Generally, each trademark should fit within at least one of the 45 International Classes as agreed by WIPO. You are not restricted from registering in more than one Class if it suits the nature of your business.

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