This paper explores discussions around city marketing and event branding strategies as catalysts in the transformation of a city’s image by studying the experience of Glasgow in the last two decades. The paper analyses the evolution of Glasgow’s image projection from a classic city marketing approach (the renowned ‘Glasgow’s Miles Better’ campaign in 1983) into a holistic branding strategy (the 2004 ‘Scotland with Style’ campaign), passing through the promotion of Glasgow as European City of Culture in 1990. These campaigns and related activities, including the evolution of city logotypes and slogans, are studied through document narrative analysis and personal interviews with key informants representing the city’s political, cultural and business worlds.
The purpose of the paper is to identify the key elements of Glasgow’s original marketing strategy (as discussed by Paddison, 1993) and study the effect of their progressive transformation into a branding strategy (see Evans, 2003). This implies a reflection about the changing role of culture as a key selling point for Glasgow (see Kearns and Philo, 1993) and an evaluation of the influence of hosting a special event – the European City of Culture title – in this progression.
The paper notes that the combination of innovative approaches to city marketing with the hosting of cultural events has played a key role in Glasgow’s positioning as a cultural centre first and, since the late 1990s, as a centre for the creative industries. However, it is important to establish that such an approach has led to celebrating certain aspects of the city’s culture while others have been progressively marginalised. Existing studies into city marketing and event branding tend to overlook the potentially negative impact of using culture as the main promotional tool of a given city. With its analysis of Glasgow’s experience, this paper will demonstrate the relevance of assessing cultural impacts as a complement to the more established economic and physical impact assessments in order to better understand the effect of hosting special events and developing event-led marketing strategies on the cultural life of a place (see also Richards and Wilson, 2004).
- Evans,G. (2003) Hard-branding the Cultural City. From Prado to Prada, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 27(2), pp. 417-440.
- Kearns, G. and Philo, C. (1993) Selling Places: The City as Cultural Capital, Past and Present. Oxford: Pergamon.
- Paddison,R. (1993) City marketing, image reconstruction, and urban regeneration, Urban Studies, 30(2), pp. 339-350.
- Richards,G. & Wilson,J. (2004) The impact of cultural events on city image: Rotterdam, cultural capital of Europe 2001, Urban Studies, 41(10), pp. 1931-1951.