“Madagascar”, a popular brand that sells the wrong product

penguins movie madagascar dreamworks  Madagascar, a popular brand that sells the wrong product

photo credit: zieak

A bit provocative title, I do agree. So why the heck a website that promotes Madagascar as a destination dare to criticize this “madagascar brand name” usage. Stick with me on this one …

If we ask foreigners about what they know about Madagascar, chances are that they will refer to the movie whether it is the 2005 one, or the 2008. Do you agree? In one of my blog, I was shocked when the “Madagascar, escape 2 Africa” generated 63,5 million USD in the week-end of the opening. Good for Dreamworks. But, this was awesome when the only direct benefit I’m aware of for Madagascar-the island from this cartoon was a 500.000 USD grant that dreamwork gave for conservation international.But  more impressive figures came out when Dreamworks announced their first quarter results that showed huge benefits mainly because of … guess what? … Madagascar the movie… I told you, Madagascar name sells (and sells it well) the wrong product (the destination). Apart from theater entries and home-entertainment products, I guess this also includes all the goodies (T-shirts, mugs, stickers, figurines, …). According to the report, so far, the Madagascar movie has generated $595 million in worldwide box office and an estimated 6.7 million home entertainment units sold worldwide, net of actual and estimated future returns.

My goodness, the whole tourism industry in Madagascar-the island, “only” generated 390 million USD in 2007.

Wait, this ain’t over. There’s more to come. Since “Madagascar” brand sells so well, some illumintaed-marketing-oriented people in a cable-TV called Nickelodeon decided to jump on the Madagascar wagon and created “The penguins of Madagascar” (guys, Madagascar is a tropical island- “penguins of Madagascar”?), this is now a regular serie since March 2009 on this TV channel. Although I don’t have the figures on the income they are making on this, I won’t even be surprised if they decide to create another serie around “King Julien the lemur” … Just smile and wave.

So riding the illuminated-marketing-oriented-products makers, since this movie is so popular, why don’t we target those gamers all around the world? Have you heard about a game named “Pandemic 2″ where “Madagascar” seems to be a hard-to-infect country? Those players are so excited when they achieved to infect Madagascar in the game that they tell the world about it (at least on twitter). You even have “how-to infect Madagascar tips” online. Those guys are talking about closing ports and airports in this game while this can actually happen in real life during the current crisis happening in Madagascar now.

Last but not least, this actual incredible joke/crisis in Madagascar. This thing is real, and being an island (and for  other reasons too), Malagasy people never thought those kind of thing would ever happen here. We were totally wrong.  This crisis doesn’t have to sell, news about it (whether it is confirmed or rumors) easily spreads worldwide (would make those pandemic games players jealous). So crisis or not, other entities are making million dollars “only” by using my country name… As a fellow rightly pointed out: “Madagascar is a rich country with poor people”

Yes, Madagascar is popular now … Not the way Madafan (and other conservation/tourism-players) want it… This reminds me about a remark one friend told me when I began communicating about this blog: “do you think it’s the right time to launch this kind of initiative?” … My short answer is YES-definitely YES, otherwise procrastination will come in the way… and why not surf the wave while the world is listening to Madagascar- others did it and brilliantly succeeded, why can’t we? Let’s get crazy and have big ambitions- you’re all welcome to join the ride – the more, the merrier.

  • dourix

    too true mr madafan, sad but it’s the reality; still i think we could take this as an opportunity to associate “the island” to the well known brand.
    by the way, can’t we claim the property right to dreamworks? :)
    milay e!

  • http://www.madafan.com madafan

    Hey Mr Dourix, welcome to this second blog :-)
    I think claiming the property from dreamworks ain’t the best way to go, and frankly I don’t wanna know about the deal that may have already been done for using this name. Moreover, why not let them use all their marketing power to have “Madagascar” as a top of mind for our potential clients. Once Madagascar (the island) will knock at their door, they will remember it (instead of saying “huh, Madagascar?what is that?”). I understand that we need to be jealous about the name, but has this name helped us thus far? People are talking about it now (not the way we would like them to), but then I do think it’ll be easier for any Madagascar destination promoter to say “hey, do you know that the actual Madagascar island is far more worth to visit/know?”

  • http://www.bronkars.com/MalagasyPeoplesLibrary/index.html Cherie Bronkar

    I have to agree too. So sad that people her in the US only know the movie and not the real Madagascar. Although I’ve never been there I’ve had the pleasure to get to know people who are there and I am committed to doing what I can to promote the real Madagascar and the Malagasy people. Check out my website http://www.bronkars.com/MalagasyPeoplesLibrary/index.html to see what we’re trying to accomplish for the Malagasy people. We need more contacts in Madagascar and any connections that could move our project forward. We’re pretty grassroots and still getting the hang of things but we do our best and I think we will accomplish our goal of locating a public library that’s free to the people in Antananarivo.

  • http://www.madafan.com madafan

    Hi Cherie,thank you for stopping by on madafan.com
    You’ve got such a woderful project at http://www.bronkars.com/MalagasyPeoplesLibrary/AboutUs.html . Congrats for the first shipment of books to Madagascar.
    You may want to contact the Telomiova project who is also trying to improve education through the use of ICT. (full disclosure: I am also part of the Telomiova project)

  • http://www.bronkars.com/MalagasyPeoplesLibrary Cherie Bronkar

    Thank you :-) I’ll take a look at the project and see if there’s a way we might all work together.

  • Esvian

    In my humble opinion dear sir, you dig on this topic far too deep. First of all there are no copyrights for names of countries, the movie characters went there. Only weak minded people would believe that a movie for kids has ANY resemblance to reality. If anything you should be grateful for all the publicity that the island gains. Think of all the people that wonders about the island, searches for things about it and ultimately traveling there! Me and mi girlfriend are planning to go to Madagascar, not for the movies(which we really enjoyed) but for the stunning landscape that we have seen on pictures…. and we wondered about the place ironically because of the movies =) and no we are not expecting lions, hippos or penguins for that matter.
    Greetings