Dayton entrepreneurs form marketing firm for foreign governments

It will function as a division of Visual Marketing Associates and be housed in VMA’s building at 123 Webster St., Dayton.

Kenneth Botts, principal of Visual Marketing Associates and an owner of the building at 123 Webster, is a partner in VMA Worldwide with Dave Lightle, who brings more than 25 years of experience in helping foreign governments including Taiwan and Colombia with promotional campaigns intended to boost their trade and tourism prospects internationally.

Botts and Lightle worked together when VMA designed a brand identity for the Dayton-based National Aviation Heritage Area and then the brand identity for Colombia, for whom Lightle was employed through his consulting business International.

VMA built on its experience in product design and marketing for corporate customers including Audiovox Corp., NewPage Corp. and Crown Equipment Corp.

“It was a very comfortable expansion for us,” Botts said Tuesday, Sept. 22.

The Colombian promotional campaign’s logo, in its most basic form, is what appears to be the red outline of a heart with a flame shooting out of the top, against a white background, over the slogan “Colombia is Passion.” The brand is designed to be adapted for use by Colombian industries as varied as cut flowers, coffee and aviation, Botts and Lightle said during an interview Tuesday.

A United Nations report issued in January that praised Colombia’s brand strategy and its potential for helping boost tourism helped give impetus for forming VMA Worldwide, Lightle said.

Governments of countries, provinces or cities in China, Latin America and other locations are potential customers for VMA Worldwide, Botts and Lightle said. A government can pay about $1 million over two years for research and development of a brand identity, its roll-out strategy and follow-up market research, Lightle said.

Colombia now owns the brand identity and logo. That country’s government rolled it out within its borders during the past two years before taking it overseas.

On Tuesday, Colombia opened a traveling exhibit in New York’s Grand Central Station that featured various heart-shaped promotional displays, building on the campaign Lightle’s and Botts’ companies worked together to produce. The same exhibit just ended a 10-day display in Union Station in Washington, D.C.

The “Colombia is Passion” marketing campaign has received favorable response, said Luis Plata, Colombia’s minister of trade, industry and tourism. It is helping Colombia combat images of civil war and drug violence to show the world its culture, music, products and picturesque destinations, Plata said from New York City, where he is visiting.

“Colombia has changed dramatically over the years,” Plata said.

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