Comms and Branding Insights: Beyond borders—-visit Rwanda’ campaign sets new PR paradigm


In a world where attention is currency and visibility is power, nations are increasingly looking for innovative ways to stand out on the global stage. Rwanda, a nation renowned for its lush landscapes and captivating wildlife, has taken an audacious step by using sports and entertainment to shine a spotlight on its untapped potential. But here’s the kicker: What if Ghana could harness the same playbook and finally seize the world’s attention in a big, bold way?

Rwanda announced last week that it had signed a five-year partnership with German club Bayern Munich to promote tourism in the East African country and set up a football academy. As part of this partnership, the ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo will appear on illuminated panels around the pitch at the Allianz Arena (75,000 seats) according to a press release from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the government body responsible for promoting the country. The club, which won its eleventh consecutive national title last season and is a six-time winner of the UEFA Champions League, has also undertaken to set up a football academy in Rwanda.

The value of the partnership is “contractually confidential”, RDB manager Clare Akamanzi told AFP. For the past five years, the Rwandan government has been investing heavily in the sporting sphere with an aim of attracting tourists and investors while raising the country’s international profile – whose history is marked by the 1994 genocide.

Cast your mind back to that moment when English Premier League fans noticed the curious ‘Visit Rwanda’ branding illuminating football stadiums. A small African nation had unapologetically wedged itself into the consciousness of millions, demonstrating that strategic sports partnerships can be more than just jersey endorsements – they can be a masterclass in international engagement and strategic public relations.


Lessons for Ghana: beyond football to the stars

Ghana, known for its vibrant culture, historical significance and untapped potential, could undoubtedly rewrite its narrative on the world stage. The country’s heartbeat is found in its diverse sports and entertainment offerings. But are we fully leveraging these cultural gems to etch Ghana’s name into the global psyche?

Consider the story of a nation whose rhythms have enchanted the world through music and dance. Imagine if our afro-beat sensations and traditional melodies weren’t just catchy tunes but resonant anthems that capture the attention of people worldwide. Rwanda’s investment in entertainment partnerships could serve as a launchpad for Ghanaian musicians and performers to tour internationally, creating a musical bridge that connects hearts and cultures across oceans.

Ghana’s film industry holds promise, its potential far greater than the sum of its parts. With a rich history and a growing pool of talent, the stage is set for Ghanaian cinema to tell captivating stories that transcend borders. Imagine a future wherein Hollywood producers clamour to collaborate with Ghanaian directors – enriching the global cinematic landscape with stories that speak to the world’s shared humanity.

But let’s not stop there. Just as Rwanda’s campaign spotlighted not only its football scene but also its breathtaking landscapes and thriving wildlife, Ghana’s tourism potential goes far beyond its cultural exports. The allure of our historical sites, pristine beaches and warm hospitality could become magnetic forces, drawing wanderers from every corner of the globe.

Final score: Ghana’s turn to play the game

The stage is set, the challenge clear – Ghana can script its own success story through a strategic marriage of sports, entertainment and tourism. While critics might dismiss such ambitions as mere dreams, remember that Rwanda’s journey from relative obscurity to global recognition began with a single vision and the courage to break the mould.

So, as we stand at the crossroads of possibility let us ponder: Could Ghana, too, adopt a visionary approach that transforms our narrative from ‘potential’ to ‘prominence’? In the end, it’s not about whether we can, but whether we will seize the moment and unleash our full potential on the world stage. The spotlight beckons Ghana. Will we answer the call?

Rise of the ‘Visit Rwanda’ campaign

In a world cluttered with travel destinations vying for attention, Rwanda’s ‘Visit Rwanda’ campaign has emerged as a game-changer. This small East African nation, known for its poignant history and stunning landscapes, made a bold move by strategically intertwining its reputation with sports and entertainment – setting a precedent that has yielded remarkable benefits.

The ‘Visit Rwanda’ campaign began with an audacious vision: to transform Rwanda’s image from a war-torn past to a forward-looking, vibrant nation brimming with opportunities. The strategy was ingenious – forge partnerships with globally recognised sports clubs, promote international sporting events on Rwandan soil, and tap into the magnetic pull of the entertainment industry. The goal was simple yet profound: to engrain Rwanda’s name in the minds of people worldwide.

The sports connection: Arsenal and PSG sponsorships

In 2018, Rwanda struck gold by becoming the official sleeve sponsor of Arsenal – one of the English Premier League’s most iconic clubs. With the ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo displayed on Arsenal’s jersey sleeves, Rwanda’s message reached millions of football fans across the globe. A year later, Rwanda replicated this success with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), adorning the club’s kit with its branding in Ligue 1 matches.

The allure of Rwanda’s campaign wasn’t confined to football fields alone. The country eagerly embraced the role of host, attracting international attention through events like the Basketball Africa League tournament. But perhaps the crown jewel in Rwanda’s hosting ventures is its preparation to host the 2025 Road World Cycling Championships – a move that showcases Rwanda’s determination to spotlight its picturesque landscapes to a global audience of cycling enthusiasts.

Behind the scenes, Rwanda invested heavily in sports infrastructure. A US$104million basketball hall boasting a capacity of 10,000 seats and a modern golf course inaugurated during 2021 in the capital city, Kigali, stand as testaments of the country’s dedication to creating world-class venues. The crown jewel, however, is the ongoing transformation of the National Stadium; a project budgeted at US$165million that aims to increase seating capacity from 25,000 to 45,000 by 2024.

The ‘Visit Rwanda’ campaign’s impact transcended mere branding. Pre-pandemic tourism revenues soared by a staggering 17 percent in 2019, reaching US$498million, according to the Rwanda Development Board. The board CEO, Clare Akamanzi, attested that the Arsenal and PSG sponsorship deals alone generated more than US$160million in media value. This in turn translated to more than a million visitors gracing Rwanda’s shores, infusing a colossal US$445million into tourism revenue.

A triumph of vision and strategy

The ‘Visit Rwanda’ campaign has defied convention, proving that a nation’s rise to global prominence can be orchestrated through a strategic marriage of sports, entertainment and tourism. Rwanda’s audacity to venture into uncharted territories, coupled with its substantial investments in sports infrastructure, has transformed the nation’s trajectory. From hosting international events to unveilling hidden treasures, Rwanda’s campaign stands as a testament to the extraordinary dividends that come from thinking outside the box.

As the world watches Rwanda’s meteoric rise, other nations – including Ghana – could take a page from this playbook. In doing so they have an opportunity to redefine their narratives, making a lasting impact on the global stage and reaping the benefits that come with it. The story of ‘Visit Rwanda’ serves as a testament to the power of creativity, vision and strategic-thinking in shaping a nation’s destiny.

The power of strategic PR for brand exposure

The ‘Visit Rwanda’ campaign’s success hinged on generating media buzz that extended far beyond traditional advertising. This is where PR came into play, crafting engaging press releases, facilitating media coverage, and coordinating attention-grabbing events. As the ‘Visit Rwanda’ branding adorned the jerseys of Arsenal and PSG players, media outlets couldn’t resist telling the story behind the partnership – magnifying Rwanda’s message.

Rwanda’s decision to host prestigious international events was no spontaneous choice – it was a calculated PR move. The country recognised that hosting events like the Basketball Africa League and upcoming Road World Cycling Championships would turn the spotlight on its attractions. PR professionals orchestrated media coverage, highlighting Rwanda’s readiness to welcome athletes, fans and journalists – showcasing its potential as a top-tier host.

Strategic PR is not just about catchy slogans; it’s also about creating authentic experiences that resonate with travellers. The ‘Visit Rwanda’ campaign effectively leveraged social media platforms to showcase the country’s hidden gems. Engaging visuals, user-generated content and captivating stories immersed potential visitors in Rwanda’s culture, landscapes and people, fostering a genuine connection before they even set foot in the country.

Behind the scenes, PR professionals were instrumental in engaging key stakeholders. Government officials, local communities, businesses and international partners needed to be on board with the campaign’s vision. Strategic communication ensured that everyone understood their role and felt invested in the campaign’s success, creating a unified front that further amplified Rwanda’s message.

A critical aspect of effective PR is data-driven decision-making. PR experts closely monitored the campaign’s impact, gauging media coverage, social media engagement, website traffic and, most importantly, tourism revenue. This data-driven approach allowed the campaign to adapt and refine strategies, and capitalise on emerging opportunities.

The ‘Visit Rwanda’ campaign’s remarkable success isn’t solely due to Rwanda’s beauty – it’s the outcome of shrewd strategic PR. By weaving a compelling narrative, forging powerful partnerships, maximising media exposure and engaging stakeholders, Rwanda’s PR experts orchestrated a symphony that resonated worldwide. The campaign stands as a testament to the extraordinary influence that PR holds in shaping perceptions, fostering engagement and achieving tangible economic benefits.

As other nations seek to replicate Rwanda’s success, the ‘Visit Rwanda’ campaign serves as an invaluable lesson in the pivotal role of strategic PR in transforming a nation’s image and reaping substantial rewards.

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