Cleveland made a bit of a splash last week with the announcment of the new “Cleveland +” branding campaign. Marketers can debate the quality of the tag line but as a city that sits in the middle of the plus, I’m delighted with concept of competing on the strengths of our combined assets as a region. For years, critics have said governments need to get over themselves and forget about arbitrary jurisdictional boundaries — and start positioning ourselves in the way that the market thinks — which is exactly what they’ve done and that’s why I’m impressed with the campaign. The sooner we start to think of ourselves as a region, the sooner we turn around our regional economy. And with $3.5 million planned to be spent to promote the region, we should all be cheering.
“Cleveland +”, that’s the new catch phrase. That means Cleveland plus Akron, plus Canton, plus Youngstown. The concept is to sell the whole region to the world and not focus on just one city.
Cleveland Mayor, Frank Jackson told Channel 3’s Mike O’Mara that “in order for us to survive as a region, we have to work together and not compete against each other.”
Canton Mayor, Janet Weir Creighton said the new campaign was brilliant because it promotes cooperation between municipalities.
“It just makes sense,” said Weir Creighton, “because nobody has that type of budget to promote on their own.”
Many local residents recall the old “Best Location In The Nation” campaign that began in 1944 with a marketing blitz by the Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company.
In 1980, the “Cleveland’s A Plum” campaign emerged. If New York City was the big apple, Cleveland could be the plum. But despite a Plain Dealer promotion, the slogan quickly died.
Other Cleveland campaigns that have faded into the marketing dust: “Cleveland, Love It Or Leave It”,and “Cleveland’s Got It”.
In 1997, the slogan was “Cleveland’s Hot”.
In 1998 we heard, “Cleveland, It’s No Place Like Home”. And in 2006, the campaign was “Believe In Cleveland”.
Today on the streets of Cleveland, opinions varied about the new marketing strategy.
“Cleveland plus does not make it for me,” said Jackie Wagner, “because I can’t even get to work without having to go all the way around town because of all the construction. It’s a crime.”
Attorney George Rooney thought the new campaign was well crafted. “It’s going to cause people to question what the plus means,” said Rooney. “And as soon as you stir their curiosity, that’s a good thing.”
Elizabeth Yates lives near Fairlawn and said it was about time the rest of the region was recognized. “Akron, Fairlawn, Medina, there’s a huge population down there now,” added Yates.
More than $3.5 million dollars is being invested in the campaign this year, with the money coming from corporate and foundation donors and the marketing budget of the Convention and Visitors Bureau of Greater Cleveland.
Another $5 million already has been pledged for the next two years, and fundraising is continuing to sustain the campaign even further.