Why Norway is going Dutch, vodka and the Russian elections, plus the French mayor who could teach Sarkozy a lesson
Poland and Romania are the leading migrant nations in Europe. Some 421,000 Poles are currently living in the UK alone.
Three million immigrants live in Spain; one third are from Latin America. There are also 544,000 Moroccans.
The Netherlands has a population density of around 475 inhabitants a square kilometre. In contrast, Norway has a population density of around 15 a square kilometre. Dutch entrepreneur Gert Rietman saw Norway’s emptiness and recognised a business opportunity. In 2003 he set up Placement, a company that connects remote regions with Dutch families looking for the good life – and a bit more space. “The Dutch emigrate to establish a life in a small-scale society where people take care of each other and where their children can have a good childhood,” says Rietman, who has a similar programme in Sweden.
Annual immigration from the Netherlands to Norway has nearly doubled in the past decade, reaching just over 900 arrivals in 2006. Magnhild Meltveit Kleppa, the Norwegian minister of local government and regional development, recently made an appearance at a recruitment fair in the Netherlands. “Norwegian municipalities in rural districts must take a wide-reaching approach, nationally and internationally, to promote the multifaceted values these areas stand for,” she says.
Geographically challenged the principality of Monaco has decided to follow the example of Singapore and Dubai (see issue 10) and expand its footprint into the Mediterranean. The key difference with the tiny state’s expansionist plans however is that Prince Albert has specified that he wants an ecologically sound solution rather than the Dubai model, which sees the seabed disturbed by dredgers and then redistributes rocks and sand to create islands.
Hoping to exploit Nordic oil platform know-how, the new neighourhood will be built on pillars and sit just above the sea rather than on landfill. With various groups bidding for the platform construction, there are still some issues to iron out on both the financing and engineering side but with no shortage of athletes and popstars looking for residency, there’s little worry about selling the properties that will tower over the site.
Three years after Vladimir Putin became Russian president, Putinka vodka hit Russia’s supermarkets, and quickly became one of the country’s best-selling brands. With Dmitry Medvedev set to become president after the 2 March elections, companies are figuring out ways to cash in on the name of Putin’s successor.
Putinka vodka sells around 8 million bottles a month, aided by the president’s high ratings. “Its success is fully down to its associations with the president,” says Alexander Eremenko, head of BrandLab, a branding consultancy based in Moscow. “If Putin begins to lose popularity, then sales of the vodka will also drop.”
Already in 2005, when Dmitry Medvedev was made first deputy prime minister, canny entrepreneurs bought the trademarks for Medvedevka vodka and Tsar Medved chocolate bars, though neither product has yet made it to the shelves.
The president-in-waiting has the added advantage that his surname is a derivative of “Medved” – the Russian word for “bear”, which in the Russian context is likely to boost sales. “Maybe Medvedev will turn out to be a good brand,” says Yeremenko. “But that will depend on to what extent another brand – Putin – allows Medvedev to develop.” As Putin is likely to remain on the scene in 2008 and beyond, Vinexim, which produces Putinka, has perhaps had the smartest idea of all – it’s registered a “Volodya and Medvedi” trademark (Volodya is a shortened form of Vladimir).
Russia’s unusual vodka brands:
Named after nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky.
- Russian Size
Its ad campaign featured a long, fat gherkin and the slogan ‘Size matters’.
- White Gold
‘For those who move in the highest circles’. The ad pictured a bare-chested man in fur coat with two borzois.
Got round Russian TV advertising laws by creating a fictitious Gzhelka mineral water brand, solely to market the vodka brand.
- Russian Standard
Perhaps only in Russia could a leading bank diversify into alcohol.
As the first left-leaning mayor of Paris since 1871 and France’s first openly gay politician, Bertrand Delanoë (left) could teach President Sarkozy a thing or two about “breaking with the past”. Whether Sarkozy will listen depends on Delanoë being re-elected this month. Counterparts in other cities such as London’s Ken Livingstone have praised his innovations. Even most Parisians, who love a good grumble, have been won over by his affordable housing policies, integration of immigrants and all-round chutzpah.