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Spain: From Fun People to A High-Level Business Arena

David Graham
25 February 2021

Just like any business, Spain has the opportunity to set its own strategy. This strategy can be based on trying to reinforce its strengths or by tackling its weaknesses.

Teresa de Lemus, Managing Director, Brand Finance Spain
Teresa de Lemus, Managing Director, Brand Finance Spain

Ranked 22nd in the Global Soft Power Index 2021, with an overall Index score of 47.5 out of 100, Spain has slipped down the Index compared to last year. However, there seem to be two areas where Spain excels and reaps rewards – for being fun and through its loyal Latin American audience.

Spain is a well-known nation, ranking in the top 10 for Familiarity. Familiarity is vital in developing a nation’s positioning in the international arena. The nation is already known and perceived as fun; therefore, we encourage the nation to build upon this attribute to, in turn, boost its soft power standing.

First and foremost, fun should be properly understood in order to create a strategy around it. We are not talking about holidays, but the overarching sense of enjoying life – something that has become enormously relevant in current circumstances. Free time needs to be enjoyable. Spain could squeeze this opportunity, offering enticing packages to companies to establish their headquarters here. Brexit is a huge opportunity to establish Madrid as the centre of EU businesses and as a London substitute.

Finding the right incentives could transform a ‘fun’ nation into one of the biggest business centres in Europe. If the ‘fun’ trait is also paired with the nation’s superior educational system – no doubt Spain will attract students from the world over. The next step would be to ensure that there is a talent retention scheme in place, to persuade these students to stay in the country to work.

Spain has a strong and loyal audience – Latin America. Although many of these nations may not recognise Spain’s influence on them, they do understand that Spain is a reputable nation. Products and services that are made in Spain – or even just embellished with the Spain stamp – have an open door into these markets. This influence could be one of the nation’s top business strategies. Spanish companies that successfully leverage and use the Spain accreditation could use this as a building block to not only expand their global reach but also to attract investment into Spain.

The Global Soft Power index is the most accurate tool to understand what the best strategy for Spain should be going forward. Understanding the nation’s strengths and weaknesses from the data provides the opportunity for the nation to make value-based decisions going forward.

Interview with Manuel Villa

Manuel Vila, The State Secretariat for España Global
Manuel Vila, The State Secretariat for España Global

What is the Secretary of State of España Global doing to communicate its response to the COVID-19 crisis to its citizens and key stakeholders?

We are working on two related plans. One strategic and one focused on communication. Bilateral meetings with other countries and the launch of the “Sentinel Network” are framed in the strategy, of which the Spanish embassies in the Member States of the EU and the Schengen Area are part, to transfer epidemiological information from Spain to its interlocutors while collecting information on the status of COVID-19 management in these countries. In this plan, we add the participation of the Secretary of State in different international forums and think tanks.

Regarding communication, it has been proactively enhanced in interviews, press conferences, and contacts with the national and foreign press through frequent briefings (the global number of briefings and press conferences of the Minister and Secretaries of State convened by the OID in 2020 has amounted to 56 and the Minister gave 164 interviews to national and international media).

Infographics, specific videos, and messages for social media have been created, and the publication of news on the España Global website has also been encouraged, in addition to reporting on various topics related to the COVID-19 crisis, to convey a positive image of Spain.

How have your plans for 2020 and 2021 changed due to COVID-19? What new interesting projects or campaigns have you carried out under blocking conditions?

The pandemic has influenced the change of formats. Where they were previously face-to-face, they have now become virtual or combined. In general, we have maintained the roadmap of all projects and reputational country campaigns have been promoted, such as 'For me, Spain is' or 'Spain for Sure', of which we are finalising a second phase.

We highlight that, in this time, we have developed an External Action Strategy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which defines and responds to global challenges through international politics, with which our country is expected to gain more weight in global leadership. We are also developing other broad-based strategies, such as the first National Global Order Strategy, a reflection on the image to be projected called 'Diverse Spain' and action plans on the country's reputation. Likewise, we have deployed economic diplomacy relations as a priority line of work and reinforced other areas such as sports or gastronomic diplomacy, among many other lines of work. 

What are your goals for the next decade in terms of developing your nation's soft power capabilities?

The objectives are included in the 2021-2024 External Action Strategy (EAE), which is being debated by the Congressional and Senate Commissions.

The EAE articulates the action that Spain will develop based on a series of values and principles that give coherence to our foreign policy and will allow our country to project the values of democracy, freedom, peace, equality, justice, respect for diversity, and progress that characterise us.

Based on these, action will be taken on four axes: promotion of human rights, democracy, safety, as well as feminist diplomacy and diversity; economic diplomacy, to decisively promote a new global socio-economic model, based on the principles of integration, justice, and equity; climate diplomacy, for the defence of a more sustainable planet, habitable and green; and multilateral diplomacy, to improve global governance and promote greater regional integration and renewed and reinforced multilateralism. Likewise, for the defence and projection of the image of Spain, a Country Reputation Action Plan will be carried out.

About the Author

David Graham
CTO
Brand Finance

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