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Barbados has a relatively thriving advertising, marketing and PR industries, which have seen notable growth in recent years. Both the public sector and international aid organisations remain important contributors to the sector. For example, the Barbados Private Sector Trade Team recently ran a large-scale campaign administered by the Caribbean Development Bank. Further, much of the smaller scale advertising surrounds the tourism industry, crucial to the economy of the country.
Soje/Lonsdale Communications, an affiliate of the global marketing communications agency Y & R, is one of the leading advertising agencies in the country. There are also numerous locally based advertising firms, many of which offer integrated advertising, marketing and PR services. Prominent amongst these is Virgo Communications.
The PR industry in the country is dominated by small, locally based firms, rather than the major global players. However, it is putting effort into becoming more professional with an increasing number of personnel attaining a degree in PR from the Barbados Community College. Additionally, recent years have seen the establishment of a Barbados chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators, to represent the interests of the industry.
The country has seen increasing moves towards the integration of PR and advertising services. The majority of local advertising firms offer PR services, whilst PR specialists are increasingly collaborating with advertising specialists. Leading local agencies include SFA Communications, Al-Hart PR, Virgo Communications and PR Plus, alongside the more recently established Clearly Content Communications, G & A Communications and PRMR.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (2012-13) placed Barbados 40th out of 141 countries in terms of the extent of marketing, with a score of 4.5 out of 7, above the mean of 4.1. This indicates that companies in the country are more likely than average to extensively utilise sophisticated marketing tools and techniques. In relation to buyer sophistication, the country again scored above the mean of 3.5 with a value of 3.9. This found it 39th in the rankings, suggesting that buyers in the country are slightly more likely than average to make decisions based on a sophisticated analysis of performance attributes rather than solely based on lowest price.
There is a developing online advertising market, particularly in relation to the tourism sector. Business Barbados offers banner advertising space on its website and newsletter advertising. Internet marketing services are available on Barbados.org, which is linked to multiple other websites, offering numerous marketing channels.
The two largest papers on the island, the Barbados Advocate and the Daily Nation, both publish daily in print and online, offering various forms of advertising space. A slightly different market can be reached through the advertising available in Caribbean Week, a business and travel guide which prints paper editions and online. There are also six FM stations and two AM stations.