In its latest campaign Volvo uses ‘Made by Sweden’ to promote its new models. The slogan is very intelligently crafted and it links the receptor not just with the car producer and its brand, but to a whole concept of social welfare, progress and lifestyles that Swedes have built in the past decades.
It links to the happiness pols, social equality, standards of quality, culture of transparency and so many other qualities that stand behind this exceptional country. The simple replacement of prepositions, allows Volvo an important global advantage. Instead of using “in”, the preposition of place generally used to express the origin of a product, Volvo has a privilege to use “by”. This positions them in a completely different scale and context.
To put it more graphically, try to picture a product that would inspire the similar effect using “Made by China”. When I say China I mean India, Bangladesh, Morocco, México, Egypt, Indonesia… or any other country known for providing cheaper production coasts.
But not just them. Although being considered 1st or 2nd World’s economy “Made by USA” wouldn’t have the same positive effect as the “Made by Sweden” has. Reasons for that are complex, but mainly rooted in the USA’s international politics and for bombing the democracy into so many countries in the last several decades that it will take a lot of time for this “by” to be pinned confidently into their products.
One simple preposition makes a world of difference, but this difference is not a superficial exercise of marketing skills. It is far deeper than this. It is rooted in the myths and narratives that define the perception people have of other people, companies and countries. These are not build overnight. They are product of collective sacrifice, commitment and hard work glued by trust and virtues that are shared through generations.
This is a crucial year for Europe. Many things are in stake and among them the values and trust. I hope we can overcome the “state-nation” myopic rhetoric’s that pretend to imply tribal superiority as a mean of evolution.
These constructs can never become “by”. They are doomed to wear faded and badly printed “in”.
My dream is to see “Made by Europe” (green) cars driving around the World. Europe has potential, but it lacks leadership and vision. The first steps towards it is building trust and promoting equality. The rest will come “by”.