Promoting a country with chess

5/3/2011 – The game of chess, with its air of intellectual sophistication, has been used to brand almost any activity, product or business. Now it will be used to promote an entire country – Ukraine, which has two heavy-weight boxing world champions (who play chess) and the Chess Olympiad gold medalists. So don't be surprised to see chess and sports promoting Ukraine in the world media.

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Branding Ukraine through chess

By WIM Olena Boytsun

I strongly believe that the game of chess has such a positive image that it can be effectively used for branding almost any activity, name or organization worldwide. In December 2010 in Kyiv there were the preparations for using chess in a unique branding program for the whole country, and in Spring 2011 the outcome was officially accepted on the governmental level. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has now presented it's “Strategy for the positioning Ukraine abroad”. The document consists of the twelve programs, the first out of which – “Ukraine: the power of intellect” – is going to be executed already in 2011.

The main idea of the project “Ukraine: the power of intellect” is to use the unique combination of the success of Ukrainian sportsmen in both boxing and chess. The whole world knows that the brothers Vitaliy and Volodimir Klitchkos have won the heavy-weight titles of World Champion in boxing in four versions (WBO, IBF, IBO, WBC). At the same time Ukrainian chess players are known for their brilliant results in the international arena, including the recent gold medal at the 2010 World Chess Olympiad in Khanty-Mansiysk. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to use the results in the branding campaign for the country, emphasizing that Ukrainian nation can be positioned as the nation that combines both the power of intellect and the power of the body.


The team: Vasyl Ivanchuk, Zahar Efimenko, Pavel Eljanov, Viktor Kapustin (President of the Ukrainian Chess Federation) holding the Olympic Cup, Vladimir Tukmakov, Alexander Moiseenko, Olena Boytsun

The program “Ukraine: the power of intellect” will be executed through a range of photo materials that will be published in major foreign mass media outlets as well as be put on billboards in selected cities as the part of the advertising campaign for the country. Participation of chess players in the campaign is planned, together with boxers and other sportsmen, as well as popular singers, actors and other personalities that can positively contribute to the image of Ukraine on an international scale.

The budget for the realization of the “Strategy for the positioning Ukraine abroad” for 2011 is eight million UAH, which is approximately USD one million. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be the main allocator of the budget according to the decision No. 242 dated 11.03.2011 of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.


Ceremony “Heroes of the Sport Year 2010”, organized by the National Olympic Committee in Ukraine


The Ukrainian Chess team received the award in the category “Together with the Olympic sport”

Therefore, don’t be surprised if you spot Vasyl Ivanchuk with Volodymyr Klitchko playing chess together – or maybe boxing – on the last page of your morning newspaper. It is only the sign that you need to book your tickets to visit Ukraine as soon as possible!


A Ukraine promo video for CNN and BBC – without chess so far

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About the author

After working on her PhD in International Economics at the Russian and Eurasian Studies Center, at St. Antony's College, Oxford University, Olena Boytsun returned to Ukraine and is currently living in Kiev. She has worked on a wide range of projects in marketing and PR for chess. Since June 2010 she has been the Marketing Director of the Ukrainian Chess Federation.

Olena has played chess since her childhood. Her current title is Woman International Master. She is a regular contributor to the ChessBase news page.


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