Let us start before the beginning …

The original title for this post was “ Spain isn’t cheap … Stop advertising it like that!” I planned to talk about the importance of branding. The fact that successful branding establishes a significant and differentiated presence in the market that attracts and retains loyal customers.

The fact that … “A strong brand is invaluable as the battle for customers intensifies day by day. It’s important to spend time investing in researching, defining, and building your brand. After all your brand is the source of a promise to your consumer. It’s a foundational piece in your marketing communication …” (source )

I intended to look at what Spain was doing wrong with its marketing and promotion. I was going to question why the promotional campaign “I need Spain”, launched back in In June 2011, a new digital media campaign aimed at international tourism , a new bid to strengthen the tourism brand España in the international market, was targeting people looking for a cheap destination.

I wanted to scream at the marketers. Ask them how they can use the word “need” in a campaign and then promote cheap. We all know that necessary goods have a way of inflating their own prices, and brands that successfully create a perceived “need” for their products soon build up a captivated (and almost blinkered in the “particular fruit” case, (attempt at being cryptic here to avoid libel … msg me if unsure who I am talking about … I still think the logo is very clever … like the Adam and Eve taking a bite!)) and loyal following.

Sorry, back to the point …

I planned to show how the cost of living in Spain isn’t that much cheaper than in the UK. I searched comparative websites and posts such as Marianne’s on East Of Malaga.net who publishes a really useful price comparison post every few months.

So. What happened?

Basically, I was wrong!

I was getting my back up. I let the UK press penetrate my usual barriers and I was reacting to a situation that  existed only in my creative, defensive and often over protective imagination.

I was simply fed up of UK tabloids, holiday websites, other internet portals and basically anyone else wanting to jump on this bandwagon to sell their products and services,  using headlines and advertising slogans such as “Counting on the Costas: Survey reveals Spain is cheapest holiday spot in Europe” and “Spain is the cheapest holiday destination”.

Fed up of articles in tabloids both in print and online about Spain being poor, having no money and targeting expats as a way to line the country’s empty pockets. I’m not referring to factual, national publications discussing the ongoing debt issues. I’m talking about the so called “expat expert” companies, targeting their own country men, distorting the facts, scaremongering as a way of generating business.

If you are unsure what I am referring to, have a look at the comments made in response to this very poor excuse for an article: Read Here

In a nutshell, I don’t see Spain as cheap. I don’t see Spain as poor. I see Spain as rich, as luxurious, as a land of opportunities … of course I do, otherwise why else would I be living here?  Why would I believe it was the best place for my children to grow up? I’m a mother, I have defensive instincts. I also do a lot of research. I see challenges as positives and opportunities.  And, I’m a bit of a dreamer.

Thanks to my years spent in Spain and my work, I have seen the reality. I am not usually affected by the negative tabloids and press. I have witnessed a shift in the demographics of people moving to Spain. I now see people who could live anywhere in the world, as they are financially independent or their work is not location dependent, who chose Spain for the quality of life it offers. Like me, these people see the luxury and the value of this great country. A country that offers some of us, many things that money cannot buy.

Admittedly, Spain is not as cheap as it used to be (for day to day material items and utilities). Tax evasion, on a local and international level, is not as easy and acceptable as it was in the past (A personal gripe of mine! If you chose to live in a country then you should play by its rules. Simple!). Spanish salaries continue to be very low, in comparison to the UK. Many expats have left Spain, although usually due to ill health, for family reasons or because the cash rich expat work environment along with their expat client base has shrunk or even dried up. Yes, some people are in the unfortunate position that they wish to return to their home country, but are unable to do so until they sell their Spanish home, in a saturated market of property for sale.

The expat generation who’ve lived in Spain for some years can often be heard complaining about the continued rise of living costs in Spain.  The problem tends to be that they’re comparing the prices of Spain today with the prices they remember paying in UK some time back and have not kept up to date with the recent inflationary spate in UK.

Please, don’t let those who shout louder be the only ones you listen to. Do your own research. Ignore the majority of what is published in the press and the disgruntled attacks of unhappy expats who are very quick to share their unhappiness on online forums (Aaargh! I do not like to use the F word!)

I’ve been tempted to publish emails of “reporters” that have contacted me via this website, and many of my colleagues, looking for negative stories about Spain, but I won’t. I will just ask you to think about what you are looking for and what you see.

If you are thinking about moving to Spain, what I’m trying to say is:

If this is your motto …

… don’t bother coming!

If this is what you are looking for …

… the lifestyle, a safe place for your kids to grow up, great weather, beautiful scenery, strong family values, an open and generally honest society that continues to respect eachother, good food that doesn’t cost the earth … what are you waiting for?

Maybe, this comes down to perception … I look forward to your thoughts.

PS. If you enjoyed this post you may like to read: Do what you love. Love what you do.

By Lisa Sadleir.



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