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CBR: #notconvinced

By Steven Bailey - 3 February 2015 15

cbr confident bold ready

Confident. Bold. Ready. These are the messages that the Brand Canberra project aspires to showcase to the rest of Australia and the world. And at a cost of $2.6 million to the ACT taxpayer, let’s hope that it eventually pays off.

The project is a wide-ranging and multifaceted marketing initiative. According to the ACT Government, Brand Canberra will be an enduring hallmark whose genesis was the civic pride and cultural maturation on display during the centenary year of 2013.

Throughout 2013, communications agency Coordinate and public relations firm Content Group began work on a product that attempted to shift the clichéd perceptions of Canberra as the characterless capital to an exciting metropolis for investors, visitors, and new residents.

Originally released in November 2013, the two-minute video was not only criticised by the public, but also attracted negative appraisals from marketing experts such as Jane Caro and Ken Cato. The consensus appeared to be that video production is a long and naff montage of romanticised images that are as emblematic of Australia’s capital city as a platter of meats and cheese is to a lacto-vegetarian.

Founder and director of Coordinate Jamie Wilson played down the harsh analysis of the project, telling RiotACT that he considered the public conjecture as a natural step in what will eventually be seen as a feat of ingenuity that will pay dividends to Canberra well into the future.

However, accompanying the recent launch of the new Canberra website was a new three-minute promotional video. In my personal opinion, the only good part of the video is that it features so many beautiful Canberrans.

Wilson denied that Coordinate had the promotional video re-created to coincide with the website launch, but it is difficult to come to any other conclusion. It is unclear how much each video cost the ACT Government.

When questioned whether he was completely satisfied that the stakeholders were delivering on the government’s vision, Chief Minister Andrew Barr reasoned that it is rare that everyone in a community will be “completely satisfied” with any promotional campaign.

“These things are, by their very nature, subjective. What might appeal strongly to you or me, others might not like at all,” he said.

Barr dismissed concerns over the $2.6 million price tag.

“The cost is modest and spread over a number of years so ensures budget affordability. I am also pleased that the investment is staying local rather than adding to the profits of large national or multi-national corporations, which would be the case if we simply bought more ads with NewsLimited for example,” he said.

He also said that the current campaign is much more strongly supported than the ‘Feel the power’ campaign from the Canberra Liberals in the late 1990s.

Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Hanson declined RiotACT’s request for comment.

It is simply a cold fact that when it comes the nation’s capital territory, the Federal Government’s agenda is to divest rather than invest. It is therefore a rational budgetary imperative that the ACT Government should promote initiatives that are aimed at attracting investment to the nation’s capital. And a dynamic, modern, and multifaceted representation of what Canberra is, and has to offer, is surely a vital part of such an endeavour.

The questions are whether or not this particular endeavour is worth $2.6 million, and whether it is an endeavour of substance or hollowness. And to whom are we peacocking? It would seem just ourselves so far.

I’ve seen no promotion of the ACT outside of the ACT. I’ve seen Adelaide, Sydney and Queensland promote themselves in other states and abroad. Where the bloody hell are we?

And then there is a more philosophical point to make:

I certainly don’t identify with Brand Canberra, and like many Canberrans, I detest all forms of advertising – especially when it is me who is supposedly being advertised.

I can’t help feeling that the idea of selling an identity is to acknowledge that you may not have one. You don’t tell people who you are; you show people who you are. I fear that the very idea that we need to sell an image is to promote a notion that we have no substance – and we do have substance.

The great cities of the world are not great because they have sold themselves; they are great because they are themselves.

Perhaps we don’t need to sell ourselves; perhaps we just need to be ourselves.

This is an amended version of an article published on 3 February 2015 titled “CBR: #notconvinced”. The article contained an unattributed quote from an anonymous Liberal MLA that described the relationship between Coordinate and the Territory Government. The RiotACT unreservedly apologises to Coordinate and the Territory Government for any offence and embarrassment it caused through publication of that quote.

What’s Your opinion?


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15 Responses to
CBR: #notconvinced
smilesr 2:21 pm 04 Feb 15

There’s been a glaring omission: where are the visuals of Summernats????!!! 🙂

Roksteddy 12:43 pm 04 Feb 15

“I’ve seen no promotion of the ACT outside of the ACT.”
Seriously? ! Have you even been outside of the ACT? I’ve seen plenty.

“I can’t help feeling that the idea of selling an identity is to acknowledge that you may not have one. You don’t tell people who you are; you show people who you are. ”
I can’t help feeling thats a Catch-22 argument. “We’re a great city but if we tell you we’re a great city then we’re not really a great city and if we don’t tell you then you won’t come here and we can’t show you we’re a great city”

“I detest all forms of advertising”
I assume that the Australian Sex Party wont be advertising in the next ACT election? And from someone who got nude to sell himself?

True, I agree, Canberra will probably never be one of the great cities. But it is a bloody good one. And advertising is a necessary business investment. People do come here for the festivals and exhibitions. How else are they meant to find out about it?

It amazes me how the same people are negative to EVERYBLOODYTHING. Talk about waking up and feeling miserable about your life.

Well done WarrenApps. Good response.

BrodieMurdoch 12:20 pm 04 Feb 15

I’ve watched the Brand CBR campaign grow over several years with interest.

There are things to like about the campaign, several to be indifferent about and other things that, frankly, are terrible.

The biggest issue Brand CBR and its engineers face is that it’s judged by a very small-minded local, vocal minority that is far more biting than the rest of Australia. They mistake themselves to be the target audience, as demonstrated in the commentary above. They are not. They also believe that they understand the intricacies involved with delivering a high-level marketing communications strategy because they’ve seen a few episodes of the Gruen Transfer and got the season one Mad Men DVD boxset for Christmas. They do not.

Now here’s where I stop defending Brand CBR.

The brand is where you end up when you create an identity by committee and not through a singular visionary. It lacks cohesion and authenticity and, as a result, so does every element that has since extended from it.

The brand video is just the latest symptom of its flawed foundation.

It is atheistically pleasing. But what is the audience being sold? That Canberra has beautiful vistas, pretty young people and nice architecture? That’s not brand video, that’s a show reel.

Where is the thesis that articulates what Canberra is and what it aspires to be to the audience?

Good luck to everyone involved and maybe this campaign will set the table for something significant in the future.

BM

WarrenApps 10:47 am 04 Feb 15

dungfungus said :

WarrenApps said :

I always welcome debate about the positioning and promotion of our city, and the work of the Brand Canberra project in particular, with open arms. People are passionate about places and that’s the way it should be. Indeed it’s this growing sense of self-belief Canberrans have in their city that will drive a more positive perception and, over time, deliver a more solid foundation from which we can present the city as a place to visit, live, study and invest. If we do that, everyone benefits. But, as we’ve consistently said, we need to play the long game – there is no quick fix. I can assure you though, that if Bailey had even bothered to dig beneath the hyperbole, he would be in a better position to understand the breadth of the project and its significant achievements in just 12 months.

Instead, we are once again subjected to an ill-informed, poorly researched opinion piece that fails to make any real contribution to the discussion. If Bailey had asked a couple of basic questions, he might have been surprised to learn that the Brand Canberra project has influenced or driven literally hundreds of individual initiatives in its initial 12 months. It has leveraged existing investments in national sporting teams, sporting venues, trade missions, business events, major events and more to present a stronger and more cohesive presence for our city in these forums. It has influenced the way major new initiatives, like the Innovation Network, have been developed. It has driven the way we present ourselves as a study and investment destination through our involvement with Invest Canberra and Study Canberra. And it has delivered a contemporary photo library of tens of thousands of modern images of our city along with a video bank of hundreds of hours of contemporary footage – all of which has been made available to anyone with a role in representing our city.

If we want to talk about value, it’s easy to take a shot at the total project budget. But consider that the budget for this project is modest when compared to competitors (other Australian cities) and is being expended over a number of years, largely on investments that will deliver for much longer than the term of this budget allocation. It wouldn’t be unusual for a city promotion campaign to spend upwards of $3m in a little over a few weeks, so please, let’s get some perspective and consider the investment being made here in context, rather than taking the typical ‘tabloid’ view. Also consider that the video, produced as a result of the video library project, and the new website, which for the first time gives the city a key entry point online, are a very small component in the overall project – less than 5% of the budget. Bailey seems to believe that in it’s first year, these are the only outcomes of the project, but again, if he’d bothered to ask…

Leveraging national sporting team relationships and broadcast arrangements alone has, according to independent analysis, generated several million dollars worth of exposure that was not being realised before. So I contend that the early stages of this project have yielded incredible value. Value which will continue to be realised for many years.

Finally, how can I ignore Bailey hiding behind the old chestnut “source who wishes to remain anonymous” to express his views about our ‘cosy relationship’ with the ACT Government. This is insulting at best, defamatory at worst. Coordinate is a homegrown professional services business that will celebrate 10 years in business this year. From humble beginnings above a supermarket in Griffith, over that time we have grown to become, I’d like to think, one of the most respected communication agencies in the ACT. We are a champion of Canberra and a significant supporter of local causes. And our success always has been and always will be driven by the outcomes we deliver for the clients we work with. In this case, we, like many of our competitors, participated in a significant procurement process to secure our appointment – the suggestion that this is not the case, or that better work could be produced elsewhere for less, is something I and my colleagues take significant offence to. Again, if he had asked those basic questions, he would have discovered that there are four very talented local contractors working on the project and Coordinate didn’t actually produce the video he’s referring to. Hardly as cosy as Bailey makes out.

It’s therefore ironic perhaps that Bailey chooses to slap a local business in a piece that sets out to offer an opinion on a project that’s intended to do the exact opposite.

In his own words, maybe he’s just ‘being’ himself.

Warren Apps
Partner/Director – Coordinate Group

No offence to your efforts and integrity Warren but you are marketing to a target audience that doesn’t, in reality, exist.

How do you rationalise that view?

rosscoact 10:46 am 04 Feb 15

WarrenApps said :

Ben_Dover said :

Oh, BTW whoever came up with this farrago; Melbourne is, yet again;”The world’s most liveable city”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World%27s_most_liveable_cities

Canberra didn’t even make the top 20 FFS, truth in advertising?

Melbourne should sue.

Just the OECD Ben.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/OECD_Better_Life_Index

Guys, I’m not sure that waking up and feeling miserable about your life is a true reflection of the livability of the city in which you live.

WarrenApps 10:25 am 04 Feb 15

Ben_Dover said :

Oh, BTW whoever came up with this farrago; Melbourne is, yet again;”The world’s most liveable city”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World%27s_most_liveable_cities

Canberra didn’t even make the top 20 FFS, truth in advertising?

Melbourne should sue.

Just the OECD Ben.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/OECD_Better_Life_Index

dungfungus 10:24 am 04 Feb 15

WarrenApps said :

I always welcome debate about the positioning and promotion of our city, and the work of the Brand Canberra project in particular, with open arms. People are passionate about places and that’s the way it should be. Indeed it’s this growing sense of self-belief Canberrans have in their city that will drive a more positive perception and, over time, deliver a more solid foundation from which we can present the city as a place to visit, live, study and invest. If we do that, everyone benefits. But, as we’ve consistently said, we need to play the long game – there is no quick fix. I can assure you though, that if Bailey had even bothered to dig beneath the hyperbole, he would be in a better position to understand the breadth of the project and its significant achievements in just 12 months.

Instead, we are once again subjected to an ill-informed, poorly researched opinion piece that fails to make any real contribution to the discussion. If Bailey had asked a couple of basic questions, he might have been surprised to learn that the Brand Canberra project has influenced or driven literally hundreds of individual initiatives in its initial 12 months. It has leveraged existing investments in national sporting teams, sporting venues, trade missions, business events, major events and more to present a stronger and more cohesive presence for our city in these forums. It has influenced the way major new initiatives, like the Innovation Network, have been developed. It has driven the way we present ourselves as a study and investment destination through our involvement with Invest Canberra and Study Canberra. And it has delivered a contemporary photo library of tens of thousands of modern images of our city along with a video bank of hundreds of hours of contemporary footage – all of which has been made available to anyone with a role in representing our city.

If we want to talk about value, it’s easy to take a shot at the total project budget. But consider that the budget for this project is modest when compared to competitors (other Australian cities) and is being expended over a number of years, largely on investments that will deliver for much longer than the term of this budget allocation. It wouldn’t be unusual for a city promotion campaign to spend upwards of $3m in a little over a few weeks, so please, let’s get some perspective and consider the investment being made here in context, rather than taking the typical ‘tabloid’ view. Also consider that the video, produced as a result of the video library project, and the new website, which for the first time gives the city a key entry point online, are a very small component in the overall project – less than 5% of the budget. Bailey seems to believe that in it’s first year, these are the only outcomes of the project, but again, if he’d bothered to ask…

Leveraging national sporting team relationships and broadcast arrangements alone has, according to independent analysis, generated several million dollars worth of exposure that was not being realised before. So I contend that the early stages of this project have yielded incredible value. Value which will continue to be realised for many years.

Finally, how can I ignore Bailey hiding behind the old chestnut “source who wishes to remain anonymous” to express his views about our ‘cosy relationship’ with the ACT Government. This is insulting at best, defamatory at worst. Coordinate is a homegrown professional services business that will celebrate 10 years in business this year. From humble beginnings above a supermarket in Griffith, over that time we have grown to become, I’d like to think, one of the most respected communication agencies in the ACT. We are a champion of Canberra and a significant supporter of local causes. And our success always has been and always will be driven by the outcomes we deliver for the clients we work with. In this case, we, like many of our competitors, participated in a significant procurement process to secure our appointment – the suggestion that this is not the case, or that better work could be produced elsewhere for less, is something I and my colleagues take significant offence to. Again, if he had asked those basic questions, he would have discovered that there are four very talented local contractors working on the project and Coordinate didn’t actually produce the video he’s referring to. Hardly as cosy as Bailey makes out.

It’s therefore ironic perhaps that Bailey chooses to slap a local business in a piece that sets out to offer an opinion on a project that’s intended to do the exact opposite.

In his own words, maybe he’s just ‘being’ himself.

Warren Apps
Partner/Director – Coordinate Group

No offence to your efforts and integrity Warren but you are marketing to a target audience that doesn’t, in reality, exist.

WarrenApps 9:14 am 04 Feb 15

I always welcome debate about the positioning and promotion of our city, and the work of the Brand Canberra project in particular, with open arms. People are passionate about places and that’s the way it should be. Indeed it’s this growing sense of self-belief Canberrans have in their city that will drive a more positive perception and, over time, deliver a more solid foundation from which we can present the city as a place to visit, live, study and invest. If we do that, everyone benefits. But, as we’ve consistently said, we need to play the long game – there is no quick fix. I can assure you though, that if Bailey had even bothered to dig beneath the hyperbole, he would be in a better position to understand the breadth of the project and its significant achievements in just 12 months.

Instead, we are once again subjected to an ill-informed, poorly researched opinion piece that fails to make any real contribution to the discussion. If Bailey had asked a couple of basic questions, he might have been surprised to learn that the Brand Canberra project has influenced or driven literally hundreds of individual initiatives in its initial 12 months. It has leveraged existing investments in national sporting teams, sporting venues, trade missions, business events, major events and more to present a stronger and more cohesive presence for our city in these forums. It has influenced the way major new initiatives, like the Innovation Network, have been developed. It has driven the way we present ourselves as a study and investment destination through our involvement with Invest Canberra and Study Canberra. And it has delivered a contemporary photo library of tens of thousands of modern images of our city along with a video bank of hundreds of hours of contemporary footage – all of which has been made available to anyone with a role in representing our city.

If we want to talk about value, it’s easy to take a shot at the total project budget. But consider that the budget for this project is modest when compared to competitors (other Australian cities) and is being expended over a number of years, largely on investments that will deliver for much longer than the term of this budget allocation. It wouldn’t be unusual for a city promotion campaign to spend upwards of $3m in a little over a few weeks, so please, let’s get some perspective and consider the investment being made here in context, rather than taking the typical ‘tabloid’ view. Also consider that the video, produced as a result of the video library project, and the new website, which for the first time gives the city a key entry point online, are a very small component in the overall project – less than 5% of the budget. Bailey seems to believe that in it’s first year, these are the only outcomes of the project, but again, if he’d bothered to ask…

Leveraging national sporting team relationships and broadcast arrangements alone has, according to independent analysis, generated several million dollars worth of exposure that was not being realised before. So I contend that the early stages of this project have yielded incredible value. Value which will continue to be realised for many years.

Finally, how can I ignore Bailey hiding behind the old chestnut “source who wishes to remain anonymous” to express his views about our ‘cosy relationship’ with the ACT Government. This is insulting at best, defamatory at worst. Coordinate is a homegrown professional services business that will celebrate 10 years in business this year. From humble beginnings above a supermarket in Griffith, over that time we have grown to become, I’d like to think, one of the most respected communication agencies in the ACT. We are a champion of Canberra and a significant supporter of local causes. And our success always has been and always will be driven by the outcomes we deliver for the clients we work with. In this case, we, like many of our competitors, participated in a significant procurement process to secure our appointment – the suggestion that this is not the case, or that better work could be produced elsewhere for less, is something I and my colleagues take significant offence to. Again, if he had asked those basic questions, he would have discovered that there are four very talented local contractors working on the project and Coordinate didn’t actually produce the video he’s referring to. Hardly as cosy as Bailey makes out.

It’s therefore ironic perhaps that Bailey chooses to slap a local business in a piece that sets out to offer an opinion on a project that’s intended to do the exact opposite.

In his own words, maybe he’s just ‘being’ himself.

Warren Apps
Partner/Director – Coordinate Group

Ben_Dover 7:25 am 04 Feb 15

Oh, BTW whoever came up with this farrago; Melbourne is, yet again;”The world’s most liveable city”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World%27s_most_liveable_cities

Canberra didn’t even make the top 20 FFS, truth in advertising?

Melbourne should sue.

milkman 6:46 am 04 Feb 15

It’s almost like Canberra is trying to compensate for having a small, um, population…

rommeldog56 8:03 pm 03 Feb 15

Is the project over ? Has the m$2.6 of Ratepayers money been spent or is there more product coming ? Where is the video to be shown/run ? Is it aimed at attracting tourists, permanent residents or industry to set up here or is it more like general promotion ?

Yep – its a pretty slick production – but focusus too much on people IMHO – not so overtly showcasing what there is to do/see in CBR – and there is plenty that could be showcased in more detail without focusing on all the faces.

I also wouldn’t have used the slogan “Canberra-The Worlds Most Liveable City”. That “award” was widely derrided Australia wide. I think it does CBR no good to ram that down viewers throats.

Kerryhemsley 1:50 pm 03 Feb 15

Very slick and watchable. A much better effort than some I have seen in the past. Would be interested to know which company was contracted to put it together and whether it was a Canberra organisation.

Find it ironic that they have used a Steve Kilbey song. Remember him saying in an interview when asked what his impressions of Canberra were when he was growing up here that all he could think of was how to get out of the place.

Time and thoughts change though..

Mark of Sydney 1:10 pm 03 Feb 15

I like the new video — very glamorous.

switch 12:52 pm 03 Feb 15

CBR – a brand logo so intuitive they had to spell out CANBERRA underneath it so people can “get it.” Our $2.6 million hits the toilet.

Milly Withers 12:36 pm 03 Feb 15

Call me a sucker for a flashy marketing campaign, but I do think that Brand Canberra is pretty good.

It’s wildly expensive, and I’m sure we could have done a similar job without spending $2.6 million (where has all that money gone? It would be interesting to see how that figure is broken down), but we do need to celebrate what’s good about this city… Just not too loudly, because then other people might want to live here too.

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