PAUL STAINTON: We’re selling the city this morning. Yes, we’re getting .. no we’re not getting rid of it. No, we’re selling the city. It’s a big advertising campaign to promote us, and it’s been launched in London. Posters are going to be displayed at Kings Cross Station for three months, and taxis will be branded with the Cathedral Square livery for a year. It’s part of a marketing strategy by Opportunity Peterborough. Pleased to say Neil Darwin has come in this morning, Director of Economic Development. Morning.
NEIL DARWIN: Morning Paul.
PAUL STAINTON: Not so sure about the picture of Cathedral Square. When was it taken?
NEIL DARWIN: It was taken during the back end of the Summer.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. OK. Was it taken very cleverly, from a good angle?
NEIL DARWIN: It was taken from a perfect angle.
PAUL STAINTON: Alright. There’s no workmen with their backsides hanging out.
NEIL DARWIN: Absolutely not.
PAUL STAINTON: No. So why are we advertising in London? What was the purpose?
NEIL DARWIN: It’s a piece of work we’re taking forward. From my perspective, Peterborough hasn’t been terribly visible for a number of years, and when we say we’re selling the city, we’re actually seeking to sell it to a very specific market, it’s those who are looking to invest, in terms of new jobs, and new facilities in the city. So it’s very focused. It’s not about selling Peterborough to the world. Having seen one or two of the comments you’ve received, it’s not quite that. The plan is to target Kings Cross, as you say, with the idea of attracting new business to the city.
PAUL STAINTON: Right. So what’s the strapline?
NEIL DARWIN: The strapline is The Right Environment to do Business.
PAUL STAINTON: Right.
NEIL DARWIN: .. which picks up a number of themes, although in a short strapline. Environment, as we know, is very important to business, and the term “business” is around creating jobs. So short, snappy.
PAUL STAINTON: Because other cities and towns have done pretty well, haven’t they, promoting in London? I’m thinking particularly of Corby, who had enormous success in dragging people up from London.
NEIL DARWIN: Absolutely. Corby is a classic example. I can think of Leeds, who did something big in London, and have done for some time. Manchester are down there. Last month I think I heard you talking as well about Liverpool opening an embassy for Liverpool in London. We’ve got to join that game. We’ve got to compete. If we don’t compete, we won’t get the jobs. It’s as simple as that.
PAUL STAINTON: Obviously, this costs.
NEIL DARWIN: It does.
PAUL STAINTON: And we’re all a bit brassic, aren’t we?
NEIL DARWIN: Things are tight. We spent £52,000, so just to get that one out in the open, £52,000. I won’t apologise for spending money. The money was there within the OP budget to spend on marketing the city, and we feel this is the most effective way of getting that money out there. What I’m not sure of, and what’s behind your question Paul, is how many more times we’ll be able to do so in the next few years because of the state of finances.
PAUL STAINTON: And I suppose, you spend this now, you see what you get back. And if it works, it’s money well spent. If it doesn’t, people are going to say phew, that could have been spent elsewhere.
NEIL DARWIN: Absolutely right. I’m very much seeing this as a test case. We’ve got two ways of looking at how we take marketing forward for the purpose of attracting new jobs. We could stick to the Internet, and do things relatively cheaply, or we could go very public in places like Kings Cross Station, and around the City of London. And from my perspective, looking at this afresh, having come into OP nine months ago, this is clearly something we need to test out. As you rightly say, if this doesn’t work, we won’t do it again. But equally, I’m very confident it will work. We’ve heard some very positive comments since the start of the week. And we think it will work over the next three months for us.
PAUL STAINTON: Does branding ever work really?
NEIL DARWIN: Yes, absolutely. Dare I suggest one or two breakfast shows have branding. The Real Thing ..
PAUL STAINTON: (LAUGHS) We don’t have any money.
NEIL DARWIN: The Future is Orange. Brands work. Never Knowingly Undersold. They’re all out there. They work. The interesting thing about the ones I’ve just mentioned, it’s about consistency. What Peterborough needs to do, and indeed any place like Peterborough needs to do, and I’m not going to tell others to do this, is keep it consistent. Let’s not keep flipping it around. That’s something we’re going to have to work with, and really make the most of over the next few years. So you won’t find us changing the strapline now in three months time.
PAUL STAINTON: You’re not going to change it to I Can’t Believe it’s not Crowland..
NEIL DARWIN: It’s good. But it probably won’t work for us.
PAUL STAINTON: (LAUGHS) No. Exactly. have you had to wait, really, until, dare I say it, Cathedral Square is “finished”? Have you had to wait?
NEIL DARWIN: No we haven’t. One or two investors that have announced they’re coming to Peterborough, to be perfectly frank, couldn’t care less whether the building’s still happening. What they’re buying into is the long-term vision. They know it will be finished. To be honest, the only joke is within the city. Further afield they couldn’t care less. They’re investing because they see a quality product. And that’s what they’re staring to come into the city to see. So we haven’t had to wait. We’ve been doing work before Christmas under the same banner. We very much targeted on editorial space, so we’re having coverage which is chatting about Peterborough, which again is another aspect we’re quite keen on. And three months before Christmas we were in 35 different daily titles, written press. And we were in every broadsheet apart from one. And we’ve been up and down the country. So we are starting to get Peterborough’s name out there. And the more we’re talked about, not by ourselves, we’re very good at talking about ourselves in the city, but further afield, people will understand what Peterborough really has to offer.
PAUL STAINTON: Because the criticism before, particularly about Opportunity Peterborough, was we don’t sell ourselves outside of the city. We don’t do enough to bring people in, and bring businesses in. So this is part of an overall strategy.
NEIL DARWIN: That’s exactly why we’re doing it now. I completely agree with you. I would not defend what was going on before. Clearly we weren’t being particularly forward-thinking with how we were promoting the city. We are now doing that going forward. And again, although you’ve got a range of comments this morning, we’d be delighted to hear from local people as to what else we can do. We’re not the owners of all good ideas. In fact, others have better ideas than we do. But let’s do this all together. It’s not something OP own. Let’s do it as a wider community.
PAUL STAINTON: And good news that obviously businesses are starting to come in to Peterborough. We’ve got TK-Maxx, Primark have already suggested, news this morning about Brotherhood Retail Park perhaps getting a redevelopment. So it is starting to feel like things are coming together.
NEIL DARWIN: Absolutely. We’ve got a number of things on the back burner at the moment, coming forward. It’s not just the retail community as well. It’s within other sectors, whether it be financial, green sectors. We’ve got plenty of interest in the city. And it’s quite simple Paul. There’s no magic to this. It’s not rocket science. If we’re positive, people see us positively. If we talk ourselves down, people will ignore us. And that’s what Corby have done, going back to your comment about Corby.
PAUL STAINTON: But you’ve got to deliver. That’s the thing.
NEIL DARWIN: Well that’s high on our agenda. Delivery is the key word for everybody these days.
PAUL STAINTON: Well I think people in Peterborough have been let down, many times in the past. And that’s why they’re a tad cynical. But certainly a breath of fresh air. Neil Darwin. Thank you for coming in this morning. Appreciate that.
NEIL DARWIN: Thanks a lot.
PAUL STAINTON: You can take any of our slogans, free of charge, by the way. You know when you’ve been Peebo’d. Neil Darwin. Director of Economic Development at Opportunity Peterborough.