Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

City Love Videos

I came across a few videos lately that are promotional to a city in some way, most of them as byproducts of an only tangentially related marketing effort.

Chicago

The first is a promotional video for NBC5 in Chicago that shows a slice of the neighborhoods, people, and history of Chicago. Very nice. This won’t display on Google Reader, so click here to watch if you don’t see it.

Buffalo

Thanks to Rust Wire for pointing me to a similar TV station promo out of Buffalo that uses an “Imported from Detroit” style to talk about the grit of the city in the face of adversity. It apparently ran during this year’s Super Bowl. Again, a nicely done piece. (If the video doesn’t display for you, click here).

Indianapolis Rebirth

Here’s one that’s more explicitly designed to pitch a city. It’s a video of various people talking about the rebirth of Indianapolis. I particularly liked Donna Sink’s comments about Indy being the best Indianapolis it can be and not trying to ape Chicago, New York, or other places. The video is well executed. It does have a number of scenes of only in Indianapolis type things such as the Indy Cultural Trail and the People for Urban Progress stadium seat bus stop repurposing. However, these probably won’t come through to outsiders and, as a result, the video I think comes off a bit like one I put up earlier from Lincoln, Nebraska. That is, a lot of what’s said and shown will look very similar to what a lot of other cities could produce about themselves (growing urbanism scene, blank canvas, art galleries, rock bands, tattoos, etc). The Indy secret sauce doesn’t really come through strongly to me. Ironically, the person who made it is about to decamp for San Francisco. (If the video doesn’t display, click here).

Indianapolis Fashion Magazine

The next one is actually a Kickstarter video for an Indianapolis fashion magazine (yes, a print magazine) called Pattern put out by a local fashion group of the same name. It also serves nicely as a promo type video about the city. This one won’t display for you in Google Reader either, so click here to watch.

I think Pattern Paper magazine is a pretty impressive effort, especially for a city the size of Indianapolis. About the same time I picked up the first issue of Pattern, I also read the first issue of the much ballyhooed Chicagoan magazine relaunch, which explicitly said it was trying to be a “top shelf” publication – but any honest assessment would conclude it fell short of that in its debut issue. Contrasting the first issue of an Indy grass roots effort put out by magazine neophytes vs. the first issue of Chicago’s best put out by old magazine pros, I think Indy should feel pretty good about its initial performance. They’ve already raised the funding for the second issue, but you can still in effect buy a copy by becoming a Kickstarter backer for the project. I recommend checking it out. Other smaller cities may be interested in replicating the Pattern collective model if they don’t already have something similar going.

10 Comments
Topics: Civic Branding, Urban Culture
Cities: Buffalo, Chicago, Indianapolis
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10 Responses to “City Love Videos”

  1. Luc says:

    Doesn’t a city need to be alive and dead before it can have a rebirth? Seems like people are trying to approach this as Indianapolis’s attempt to go from a major Midwest city to a major US city, not as Indianapolis trying to become something it had been in the past.

  2. David H says:

    These are AWESOME! Thanks for sharing. I think mid-sized cities are really at a crucial moment to capture their authenticity and use THAT as a competitive advantage against bigger cities. The everyday Joe/Jane can really make a difference in making big things happen in cities like Indy, Cincy, Louisville, Nashville, Bufffalo. I love it.

  3. Aaron says:

    “Seems like people are trying to approach this as Indianapolis’s attempt to go from a major Midwest city to a major US city, not as Indianapolis trying to become something it had been in the past.”

    The sad thing is Indy is not even really considered a major Midwest city. The city has a long way to go as it’s at the very bottom of the conversation.

  4. Micheal says:

    “Seems like people are trying to approach this as Indianapolis’s attempt to go from a major Midwest city to a major US city, not as Indianapolis trying to become something it had been in the past.”

    Looks like they’re conveniently forgetting about Minneapolis. Come now, i don’t mind booterism but they’re not anywhere near that city’s level yet much less becoming a major US city.

  5. I’m not sure what you guys or saying. I didn’t pick that up from the video at all. Rather, I just see people excited and proud of what their own city has accomplished.

  6. Ron says:

    “About the same time I picked up the first issue of Pattern, I also read the first issue of the much ballyhooed Chicagoan magazine relaunch, which explicitly said it was trying to be a “top shelf” publication – but any honest assessment would conclude it fell short of that in its debut issue. Contrasting the first issue of an Indy grass roots effort put out by magazine neophytes vs. the first issue of Chicago’s best put out by old magazine pros, I think Indy should feel pretty good about its initial performance.”

    Aaron, your inferiority complex towards Chicago when it comes to your corny little hometown is pretty hilarious. Btw, you seem very interested in writing about Chicago every week, why don’t you write about all the violence that’s been going on in Indy and the the budget issues? Oh that’s right, Chicago is the only city in the country with problems. Lol, you’re fucking pathetic!

  7. Carl Wohlt says:

    Aaron continues to advance a very important dialogue by featuring these videos. In doing so, he brings into play the challenges of “differentiation,” a key concept in branding.

    In the urban planning world, there is phenomenon known as “comps,” short for “comparables.” Planners will typically solicit support for strategies they are recommending by showing examples of similar, successful projects in peer communities. This is understandable – elected officials, many of whom are part timers without professional expertise – as well as vulnerable professional staffers, seek assurances that their decisions are valid based on previous success stories in similar communities.

    From a branding and marketplace standpoint, this is a problem. The more similarities there are that communities share, the less likely they are to be distinguishable to the broader marketplace, and, especially, the global market. A piece featured here on the Urbanophile site in April 2011, ” The 31-Flavors of Urban Redevelopment by Rod Stevens” (http://www.urbanophile.com/2011/04/04/the-31-flavors-of-urban-redevelopment-by-rod-stevens/), highlighted the propensity for cities to follow similar urban redevelopment trends.

    There is also the technical issue of videographers looking to match or exceed the same popular stylistic trends and techniques in their art.

    It’s a dilemma. The global world demands a visual vocabulary that connects to broad audiences, but if the features in the various videos produced by Midwestern cities highlight the same basic assets, then how does the marketplace determine what’s truly unique?

    There are placemaking strategies that reinforce what’s distinctive and unique, and these are generally aligned with history, geography, climate and culture. More and more, I think the differences will be distinguishable by locally produced products – like beer, wine and distinctive food products that are unique to regions. In short, it’s a mistake to try and look groovy by mimicking someone else. Resources are better spent finding that’s truly unique.

  8. Anonymous says:

    While Columbus is not a global city on any New York, or London or Tokyo level; it is stable because of its past and is, slowly, building a future.

    Chemical Abstracts and OCLC are still in Columbus, regardless of anywhere in the world they could go. It’s true that Xerox and Nickelodeon had their origins here and moved on.

    At one time (in the late 1890s of course), Columbus was the largest buggy manufacturer in the world. Not one Columbus buggy manufacturer successfully transitioned into auto manufacturing. Body by Fisher was a huge employer on the west side. That whole site is now a gambling casino. And we’ll see how that works out.

    Wendy’s is a hamburger chain. White Castle as well. The Limited spun off several corporations which still maintain their HQ here. JPMorgan Chase still employs more than 10,000 people on the north side and Downtown. Battelle is still the worlds’ largest private research corporation and Ohio State vies with Texas as the world’s largest college campus body.

    Yeah, almost any city can grab headlines about the best and greatest and Columbus sometimes gets knocked as Cowtown. We are, at our roots, fundamental, and we should embrace our fundamental roots.

    Columbus was artificially created to become the capital of Ohio in the 1830s. Cleveland and Cincinnati had, and still have, much deeper roots; especially in the arts.

    But as a 21st century city, without a manufacturing legacy, Columbus has it made; assuming we don’t screw it up.

  9. Bow says:

    I love those stadium seat bus stops!

  10. Shane says:

    In regards to The Chicagoan, that was largely the part-time brainchild of disgruntled Playboy editors who wanted to leave their mark on Chicago in some way during their last two years in Chicago. Its largely been put on hold now, due to the team being divided geographically in Chicago and L.A., and also there has been no real business strategy in terms of securing funding.

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