Be My Guest: Nation branding and national representation in the Eurovision Song Contest
Since its inception in 1956, the EurovisionSong Contest has been a stage for national representation and an opportunityfor countries to brand themselves. The 2012 Eurovision Song Contest in Baku,Azerbaijan is a prime example of nation branding, both for the host country aswell as the participating countries. Hosting the event gives a country the opportunity to present a specific nation brand, but there are other opportunities for those countries which only have a three-minute time-frame for their performance in presenting a national image. These performances are themain subject of this thesis, which main question is: How do nation-states use the Eurovision Song Contest as a means of nation branding?
To answer this question, I use three sub-questions. First, I focus on the concept of identity: how does musical performance represent national and European identity in the context of the Eurovision Song Contest? Secondly, I study the translation of national identity into an image that should appeal to all of Europe, by creating a specific nation brand: how do nations use nation branding through culture as a tool to build an appealing image within the context of Eurovision? Lastly, I study the performance of these nation brands in specific cases during the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest: how is a nation-branded image performed in the Eurovision Song Contest?
The first two chapters of my thesis consist of an analysis of literature on identity and nation branding in combination with national representation in Eurovision. My third and last chapter consists of performance analyses of 2012 participants, focusing on performances from Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Montenegro, which in 2012 were some of the richest performances in terms of symbolism concerningnational representation.
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