PUBLIC RELATIONS: Sales from the city - Investment and tourism are now urban necessities. Rachel Miller looks at how UK cities market themselves

Thinking of your home town as a ’brand’ may require an active imagination, but for cities which want to attract investment or host a major event, marketing is essential for getting onto the map.

Thinking of your home town as a ’brand’ may require an active

imagination, but for cities which want to attract investment or host a

major event, marketing is essential for getting onto the map.

Many will think of Manchester’s repeated attempts to host the Olympics,

but several other cities are reinventing themselves and turning to

marketing professionals for help.

’Marketing a city is probably the most challenging of marketing tasks,’

declares Steve Jardine. As director of specialist agency Drakes Jardine,

he has created brands for towns and cities such as Leicester, Bolton,

Manchester and Derby. ’It is undoubtedly possible to change the

perceptions of a city,’ he says, ’but it can’t be done in an


When a place is your product, you certainly have your work cut out. To

start with, you have very little control over your brand. You also have

to work with a large number of stakeholders, each with their own


Then you have to find a promotional message which convinces everyone,

from the locals to the outside world.

It’s a tough job, as Elizabeth Jeffreys, chief executive of Marketing

Manchester, can testify. Jeffreys and her team have consulted with a

staggering 600 interested parties to launch a new promotional image for


’You have to be careful that you are not pulled in 100 different

directions and end up settling for the lowest common denominator,’ she


However, Manchester’s new slogan, ’We’re up and going’, has been widely

slated since its unveiling this summer.

Jeffreys remains positive and says: ’The controversy over our slogan

provided more effective marketing than we could ever have afforded to

buy. Now we have to focus our energy and move forward. To do that we

have to get all the partners working together.’

According to Creenagh Lodge, of agency CLK, the Manchester message

doesn’t work because it does not communicate either a proposition or a


Lodge has worked on country branding projects, and CLK’s work for New

Zealand spawned the ’Far and away the finest’ slogan, which Lodge says

’acknowledges the distance of the country and makes a virtue of it’.

Marketing Manchester’s strategy is based on the premise that ’the

perception of cities and places, and the mental image we have of them,

are key to the economic success or failure of that region’. It is

encouraging others to adopt the new identity and has set a target of 100

organisations to use it in the first year.

Jeffreys firmly believes that ’marketing can help to change the

perceptions of a city’ and that tools for the job, such as mission

statements, logos, slogans and promotional identities, are both apposite

and effective.

Lodge agrees: ’When it comes to marketing cities, you use the same

disciplines as you would with a corporate brand.

’A slogan has to communicate what you are offering and explain why

someone should buy into it. The message has to be simple and clear. The

difficulty is that local people see a city in a very different way to

those outside.’

The solution, according to Jardine, is to tackle the internal audience

first. ’A crucial first step is to have a positive self-image before you

project an external image. Then you have to settle on one stance for the

brand and use it consistently with each sales message, whether it is for

tourism or business.’

That’s the approach adopted by the Newcastle Marketing Initiative, which

unveiled its ’Newcastle - a real eye-opener’ campaign this year.

’Our broad aim is to sell Newcastle to the world,’ says city marketing

co-ordinator, Tim Cantle-Jones. ’But, more specifically, we want to

create a unified approach to marketing the city.’

The ’eye-opener’ slogan will appear on campaigns that promote everything

from business and culture to shopping and sport.

Newcastle Marketing Initiative plans six projects in its first year.

These include Virtual Newcastle, a virtual reality model of the city on

the Internet to bring Newcastle to a global audience, as well as

production of a conventional city guide.

Urban renewal

There are also plans to improve the city’s first impressions and to

develop a cultural quarter in Grainger Town, already home to the Theatre

Royal and China Town.

’Our marketing efforts will only work in harness with real change,’ says


’The danger is that people expect PR to change things on its own. But

the reality is that unless the product is there, marketing won’t


Newcastle is a very distinctive city and a strong product. Our campaign

identifies the city’s strengths.’

To bring about these changes, the initiative has support from Newcastle

City Council, Tyne & Wear Development Corporation and also from

companies such as Procter & Gamble, which is providing resources as well

as finance.

’City marketing initiatives only work when there is true partnership,’

says Cantle-Jones. An annual research programme will measure shifting

perceptions. ’We are conducting research on several levels,’ he


’There are a number of groups in the city that are constantly giving us

feedback on our internal image. There is also a more formal research

programme, among the public and opinion-formers outside the North East,

to see how perceptions are changing.’

The city will now focus on marketing its other attractions, with much

emphasis on an ambitious events programme.

Newcastle hosted the Tall Ships Race in 1986 and 1993, put on Eurofest

in 1996 and is home to the annual Great North Run. Cantle-Jones plans to

create ’one definitive period when lots of things happen at one time and

pull in a large number of people’.

For many cities, events play a key role in their marketing strategy.

Glasgow’s renaissance in the past few years, for instance, has been

thanks in part to an ambitious events programme.

It hosted the 1988 National Garden Festival, secured the coveted

Cultural Capital of Europe title in 1990, held the Festival of Visual

Arts in 1996 and will be UK City of Architecture and Design in 1999.

’Events are tactical, rather than strategic,’ says Jardine. ’They have a

finite life. But they do get a lot of people working together and if you

can attract events that reflect your image, so much the better.’

Underpinning its events programme, the city council has been promoting

Glasgow effectively since the early 80s. In 1983, it took the first

steps with the ’Welcome Home’ campaign, which targeted the huge and

potentially friendly market of ex-patriate Glaswegians. The project

triggered a tourist boom, with visitor numbers rising from 750,000 in

1982 to over 3,500,000 in 1989.

The internationally acclaimed ’Glasgow’s Miles Better’ promotion soon

followed, based on the successful ’I Love New York’ model, and it has

proved to have real staying power.

Aimed at an external audience, research showed that the campaign has

helped to eradicate the negative image of Glasgow and attract new

business and tourism. Ten years on, the slogan was reintroduced when a

1994 campaign based on the slogan, ’Glasgow’s Alive’, was judged a


Bidding for the best

Like Glasgow, Manchester continues in its efforts to attract big events,

despite its failure to win some of the most coveted bids in recent


Bids are big business.

Jeffreys says: ’Event bids are a major opportunity. Our bid for the

Olympic Games brought in over pounds 200m of investment, which we

wouldn’t have got otherwise, and it also raised our profile. Now we have

the largest indoor arena in Europe, a new national indoor cycling centre

and the Bridgewater concert hall.’

When London beat Manchester in its bid to host the Millennium

Exhibition, the reasons given for its success included the fact that

Greenwich is the ’home of time’ and that it is natural to host national

celebrations in the capital.

Anna Barlow, communications manager of London First Centre, says:

’London is a wonderful place to promote.’

But attractions do not market themselves. London First was established

in 1994 to attract businesses to the capital.

’When we started, we found there was a dearth of information about

London,’ says Barlow. ’There were bits and pieces but nothing cohesive.

So we defined the city’s USPs.’

The London First service includes a free consultancy service for

potential investors, providing access to property, introductions to

surveyors and estate agents and giving information on workforces,

training and referrals to legal and accountancy advisors.

The favourable press coverage that London has enjoyed in the past year,

including the recent Newsweek cover, ’London Rules’, has, says Barlow,

been generated thanks to a combination of London’s own attractions and

its effective marketing.

Of course, there are factors which can have an enormous impact on the

perceptions of a city which cannot be controlled by any marketer,

however talented. A successful football team, for instance, can do

wonders for the image of a city.

’Success at sport is a big plus, if only we could manage it,’ says


’If your local team is on the crest of a wave then you have to make the

most of it. The more you are in the national news, the more coverage you

get, and if you are top of the league then people are genuinely proud of

their city or town.’

A survey conducted this year revealed that Newcastle was seen very

positively, with football doing a lot for its popularity.

’Football has given us a feel-good factor and it has also helped to put

us on the map,’ says Cantle-Jones.

Even so, Jardine warns, promoting a city must not be left to chance.

’UK cities are facing an increasingly competitive and aggressive


Cities that don’t appreciate and understand the threats could well

mirror the experience of numerous US cities - the doughnut principle

creates a plethora of satellite work and residential sub-centres and a

neglected heart.

’Cities have to act now. Proactive, co-ordinated and consistent

promotional activity is one of the vital ingredients.’

City slogans

Manchester - ’Up and going’

’Glasgow’s miles better’

’Newcastle - A real eye opener’

’London’s wild’

Leicester - ’A city full of surprises’

’Leeds Alive’

Dundee - ’City of Discovery’

Stoke - ’Fires the imagination’

’I Love New York’.


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