28 May 2012
I had earlier failed to draw a clear picture about Azerbaijan and its people for myself. It was a “working file” with bits and pieces of my impressions from several business trips to the capital city of Baku and its suburbs. It was probably the result of what an Azeri colleague of mine has summarized in one short sentence: “Information sharing is not our biggest virtue”.
One thing I however knew for sure was the feeling of peace and relaxation every time I came to this hospitable country. And my latest visit to Baku during the Eurovision final has helped me to complete the picture. That was probably when Azerbaijan shared as much information as it had ever shared before :)
I heard unanimous opinions – great show, amazing preparations. Azerbaijan has used the opportunity presented by the Eurovision Song Contest to the fullest, to promote the country. “They have made a Paris out of Baku”, one of my colleagues said. Personally, I found more comparisons to London.
Those who want to imagine what Baku might look like in a couple of years more, can visit this site.
Azercell, our mobile operator in Azerbaijan, has got a 4G license and will become the first among the TeliaSonera operators in Eurasia to commercially launch 4G services (expected in mid-June).
Azercell is the largest non-oil investor, the biggest taxpayer and the most coveted employer in Azerbaijan. It is truly a local company which represents Azerbaijan and promotes it on the international arena through participation in conferences, forums and other significant events. It could simply not have been otherwise than Azercell becoming the main sponsor of the Eurovision.
By the way, the first foreign company in Baku was established by the Nobel brothers. It was Robert Nobel who, in early 20th century, discovered that Baku was a very promising place for doing business. The Nobels’ Villa Petrolea, once an embodiment of utmost luxury and wealth (for example, ice cubes were being brought by ships from Scandinavia and put in its cellars to cool the villa during ruthless summer heat), now serves as a museum and restaurant.
For those curious to learn a bit more about Azerbaijan, I recommend this link. I also very much liked the small video presentations that preceded each song during the contest. And my small personal favourite from the Eurovision – a blend of international and local.
I think, overall it was a great communication campaign having a good “product” as its basis, namely the country’s development, its culture and its people. Supported by the high quality Azercell network which never failed, not me at least ;) So, shall we now “hand the torch over” to our parent company in Sweden? :)