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Exploring destination brand disengagement in a top-down policy context
Journal of Place Management and Development  (IF),  Pub Date : 2020-04-04, DOI: 10.1108/jpmd-06-2019-0040
Narcís Bassols, Thomas Leicht

This paper aims to analyze the case of Cartagena, Colombia, as a case of a failed destination branding. It also broadens the findings by connecting them to the extant literature about place branding, thus making this paper more explanatory. It tries to fit the fieldwork’s findings into the two main streams of branding research (bottom-up vs top-down). This paper also gives practical insights into the destination’s network of stakeholders and discusses ways to improve the destination’s management and branding.,This paper uses a mixed methodology approach. Field work consisted of online questionnaire to hospitality employees in the city plus semi-structured interviews conducted with 18 “expert” stakeholders in the destination. This paper is of empirical nature.,The main cause of the destination’s brand failure is found to be the top-down approach to the place brand strategy. The literature shows that cases such as this one are more common than assumed, and a possible way out of the problem is the application of bottom-up or “mixed” approaches, as these may circumvent the problems found.,Cases like this one illustrate very well a local context but might be difficult to transfer to other contexts, so the generalization power of this paper is limited to similar places in the sociopolitical sense of the term.,For place branding practitioners and destination management organizations , this paper is a call for participative approaches which include all of the stakeholders of a place.,This paper offers an in-depth study of a branding case in Latin America, a part of the world relatively unexplored in the branding literature. On the basis of the presented case, this paper pitches top-down versus bottom-up approaches. Finally, it explains the findings by connecting the place to its broad geographical context.