6 Reasons Why the “Buy Jamaican Campaign” Needs Urgent Redesign

The buy Jamaican campaign, as well meaning and economically sensible as it may be for Jamaica (and Barbados and Trinidad where they have similar campaigns), says only one thing to consumers “Buy me because I am Jamaican, and we are family” – that is a very bad marketing pitch.

Buy Jamaica Christmas Campaign

Garrison Shopping

Buy Jamaican campaign is equivalent to Garrison Politics – “Vote Labour or Power because you are from here or there.” Support our cause because “we are in the struggle together”.  Come on board, not necessarily because the product is great, not necessarily because there is any value in it for you, but  because it’s us against the rest of the world.

Here are 6 reasons why Buy Jamaica, as great as it is, is just not yet good enough:

1. Buy Jamaican Is the Longest Way Home.

Jamaican Tourism

“You ought to buy Jamaican” is emotional manipulation at best. Have you ever wondered however, why “Buy Jamaican” needs to be said?

Here are 5 Jamaican products that no one needs to be emotionally manipulated into buying:

  1. Jamaica (the idyllic tourist version)
  2. Usain Bolt (Yohan Blake, Veronica Campbell-Brown)
  3. Blue Mountain Coffee
  4. Bob Marley and Reggae Music (not necessarily Dancehall, thanks much to all the bans and criminal charges of the major icons)
  5. Dr. Henry Lowe’s Prostate Cancer breakthrough

Do you want to know why these Titans stand the test of time, the recession and the pressure of every competing product? They stand because they are innately high-quality, incomparable and worthwhile products.

The “Buy Jamaican” campaign overlooks the fact that “if you build it (well) they will come.”

2. Buy Jamaican presumes that I will eat crap for national pride

I will not.

No Crap, pleaaaaase!

Have you ever heard the saying that, “Good marketing only makes a bad product fail faster?”

Isn’t that why the Blackberry Playbook cannot sell even with price cuts, while, the Apple iPad has been marked as the top selling gadget in human history? The fact is, good products sell. Bad products, sell a bit with advertisement, before crashing.

When I or someone I know purchase a product that tastes like crap, everyone on Twitter, Facebook and Google + will know that the product (as wonderfully Jamaican as it is) sucks royally.

3. Indiscriminate “Buy Jamaican” approval is bad for “Brand Jamaica”

Original or Counterfeit

It’s not only wrong to reward the lazy and incompetent for what they did not do, it has long term effects for Jamaica as a brand. Jamaica is known globally for quality in whatever it does, granting wholesale approval and endorsement of every random bag juice man soon makes people weary of all bag juices.

Representing Jamaica ought not to be a matter of right – like a spot in the Jamaican Olympics team, it ought to be earned.

Producers that rely on their “Jamaican Identity” as their only source of survival, without producing at the level that will ensure the survival of brand Jamaica, are no better than those who randomly stamp “Jamaica” on their counterfeits.

 4. Buy Jamaican Supplies No Real Benefit for the Consumer

No rebate?

No “10 Jamaican product wrappers equal a discount?”

No “1000 Grace labels and Grace will pay for you CXC in English?”

No Buy Jamaica card that rewards you in NHT benefits or gas points, or Air Jamaica flights, or hospital costs?


So who benefits when I buy Jamaica? (Ahhh, right the producer and the government). And I am suppose to care about their existence more than my own (clearly I do when I buy a more expensive product simply because it’s Jamaican) for what reason?  Simply because they are Jamaican?

As people say in the part of the country I come from, “Unnuh can siddung and wait pon it.”

 5. “Buy Jamaican” rewards the lazy, and ignores the industrious

Blue Mountain Coffee

I will spend on Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, even though Jamaican High Mountain Coffee is cheaper and even though a host of foreign brands are cheaper. Why? The product is world-class.

Wouldn’t the Buy Jamaican Campaign do better if it were able to say, “Buy Excelsior Water Crackers because…,” before listing all the merits of the product in comparison to the competitor.

It is wrong to lump a lazy with the efficient, the incompetent with the competent.

6. Simply saying “Buy Jamaican” is inadequate

The statement is wholly reliant on my innate prejudices to work. There is very little national pride in me when I see the same product costing $50 less than the Jamaican alternative.

I have a suggestion: each manufacturer needs to print a big glossy attractive cut out to put in the supermarket, explaining why their product costs what it costs.  For example, why Jamaican Corn Beef cost more than New Zealand Corn beef (just a random product, I didn’t really check).

What do you think about a ‘buy local’ Campaign to encourage consumers to buy products primarily from their country? Do you believe we have a responsibility to support local producers?

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Andrew Wildes (@AndrewWildes), a law student, journalist and aspiring author. Read more about Andrew at MaximizeMyLife.

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