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Romania tourism launch in plagiarism row

The Ministry of Regional Development and Tourism (MDRT)’s launch of the brand ‘Romania: Explore the Carpathian Garden’ at the International Expo in Shanghai has been overshadowed by a plagiarism row concerning the brand’s logo

September 2010 - From the Print Edition

The image - a green leaf underlined by a blue river - has the same shape and dimensions as an English eco-bus called Change Transport.
The provenance of both images appear to be from cut-price royalty-free image bank Shutterstock.
On 30 July the MDRT asked for a response from the designers of the brand - Spain’s THR Asesores en Turismo, Hoteliere Y Recreacion and the UK’s TNS - regarding why the form and composition of the logo resembles a logo sold on the Internet.
The company denied it had stolen or bought the image, and stated its work was original.
The Ministry will not pay up until the company clarifies this position.
The leaf and river will stay in place until the State Office for Patents and Brands (OSIM) investigates whether the work is a copy.
Stefan Liute, strategy director of branding company Grapefruit, says the Shutterstock scandal has effected the delivery of the brand “irreversibly”.
“At least in Romania, it will be remembered when the international advertising campaign rolls out in a year or so,” Liute says. “Even outside the country, chances for a clean start are small, with major publications such as The Economist already thumbing down the brand identity.”
Romania has chosen to focus on nature as the chief attraction to bring more tourists to the country.
After international research of travellers to Romania and experts in the field, THR and TNS found that Romania’s six competitive points of interest were culture, nature, its countryside, city breaks, adventure, spas and health.
The untouched landscape of the Carpathians were among the most popular attractors for the country, along with the Danube Delta and sites such as Sighisoara, the Bucovina monasteries, the Merry Cemetery in Maramures, wooden churches, Dacian fortresses and Sibiu.
The Ministry does not want to target mass tourism, but the western educated middle classes - those interested in culture, art, history, education and spirituality.
The presentation of the new brand did not include one mention of Bucharest.
The contract for the 0.9 million Euro branding was financed using European Union structural funds.
Now MDRT will appoint an advertising company to continue a roll-out based around the premise of the brand.
“The promise [of the brand] is vague enough to accommodate a vast range of advertising ideas, but on the other hand, it invites blandness exactly because of this vagueness,” adds Liute.

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