Personification of Place – RIP Drvar

drvar-4I was interested to hear about a funeral service for a town in western Bosnia-Hercegovina called Drvar. After the closure of the last employer in the town and with unemployment running at 80% the local people have held candle-light vigils and wrote obituaries for their town. According to the BBC, Drvar’s mayor, Stevica Lukac, “appeared at the mock funeral at the local Serbian Orthodox church but urged the crowd not to lose hope”. Many branding experts study the personification of brands – in other words how customers ascribe human personality characteristics to brands. This collective ‘mourning’ certainly demonstrates a strong sense of feeling and attachment to Drvar – and also how people see the negative consequences of job losses at a town level (rather than just what it means to them or their family). This collective involvement in such a symbolic act as a funeral for a town is, to my knowledge, the first of its kind. Maybe debating whether or not towns are brands is missing the point somewhat when they can achieve anthropomorphic status.

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