Friday, August 3, 2012

T&T : The Hard Sell

Trinidad and Tobago's latest attempt to "sell itself to the world", comes in the form of pop star, Nikki Minaj 's new video for her song 'Pound the Alarm'. 

Pound the Alarm is a simple enough video, short on concept but high on men and women in colourful carnival costumes. As the T&T government may have been involved in "facilitating" the production, it also includes the obligatory shots of the beach, the coast, a few "traditional" carnival characters, and of course Machel Montano.

The Trinidad Express praised the video saying it "sends the message to the world that Trinidad and Tobago has it all, natural island beauty, gorgeous women, great architecture, technology and is also the place where you can party in the streets with the biggest of stars"

That's a bit of an oversell. Everyone who lives in T&T or has ever visited the island would think that sentiment  isn't just untrue, it's completely insane.

But there is another problem with viewing Pound the Alarm as an advert for T&T. Advertisers will tell you that using a celebrity to sell your product can be very effective;except when the celebrity has a brand image that dwarfs the product. 

There is no doubt that millions of people all over the world saw the  Pound the Alarm video. How many of them saw Trinidad and Tobago is another matter. 

I have been trying to find the words to describe how I feel about the video and what it is purporting to sell. But I realized that T.S. Elliot already said it for me in his classic poem, The Hollow Men.

1 comment:

Cate Young said...

I hadn't thought about it like that before, but you make a great point about a celebrity dwarfing the product. And considering how many commenters on youtube (I mean, not the brightest but still...) are convinced that the video is set in Brazil despite all evidence to the contrary, I think you're point has been proven. I like the video, but I also never actually saw it as anything more than a music video. I don't think anyone in their right mind would ACTUALLY try to use those visuals to sell this country, because by and large, the video is not about Trinidad...