Thu, Sep 23, 2004 - Page 8 News List

What's in a name?

By Marc Plumb

Since the official name of Taiwan, the Republic of China (ROC), can't be changed so easily, why not use some good public relations and maximize the value of the letters "ROC" as an unofficial slogan. ROC: Republic of Compassion.

With the letters ROC, Taiwan can create a brand name and image to show that the country is a caring, compassionate society which contributes to the betterment of the world. Instead of spending billions on arms or aid to banana republics, Taiwan could purchase one of Russia's extra aircraft carriers and convert it into a hospital ship. An on board airborne fast response team would be able to travel to any disaster area in the world on a moment's notice, and the ship can stay afterwards for follow-up support, or perform other services like surgery on Siamese twins, etc.

Come up with a good name like "Greenpeace" or "Calypso" then heavily -- but tactfully -- promote the name and service for the next few years. Let the world know what good people the Taiwanese are -- most of them anyway. Get involved with other large-scale relief groups. Set up a university for EMS/disaster response training, rescue technology equipment design, logistics, medical training, food/water resource management, etc. Give other countries' citizens scholarships to participate and earn degrees.

Besides re-allocating the money to a more worthy cause, this idea may also help Taiwan's tourism industry. The current slogan is "Naruwan, Welcome to Taiwan," but it is confusing and makes it seem like you got off the plane in the wrong country. It doesn't work like sawadee. "Republic of Compassion" is very direct and meaningful.

On a smaller name issue, why doesn't the Taipei Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system brand itself better? In Hong Kong, everyone knows the subway is the MTR. In Taipei, they decided to use a symbol for a name.

I think it would be better for tourists if they plastered the abbreviation MRT on all stops, so everyone (especially taxi drivers) knows what tourists are talking about. It will easily catch on, just like DIY, BBQ, BBCall, etc in daily lingo.

Just a thought.

Marc Plumb

Taipei

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