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Place Marketing: The City The Branding of Toronto Definition the tourist experience is to be understood in terms of consuming opportunities to look (the ‘tourist gaze’), a distracting or ludic looking ‘upon’ aspects of landscape or townscape which are distinctive

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Place Marketing: The City

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place marketing the city

Place Marketing: The City

The Branding of Toronto

  • the tourist experience is to be understood in terms of consuming opportunities to look (the ‘tourist gaze’), a distracting or ludic looking ‘upon’ aspects of landscape or townscape
    • which are distinctive
    • which signify an experience
    • which separate them off from everyday and routine experiences
producing the lake district
Producing the Lake District
  • Nothing natural about it says “beautiful tourist site”
  • So how come it is?
  • Answer: symbolic construction of difference though signs and images and cultural production in general.
  • Described in the poetry of Shelley, Keats, Tennyson, and Charlotte Bronte, the Lake District has come to be seen as one of the most beautiful sections of protected land in all of England.
  • Tourism marketing as the formation of the tourist gaze and place myths
  • The production of place requires symbolic and cultural work!
  • How is this video forming the ‘tourist gaze’?
  • Who do you think is being targeted with this campaign?
  • What is the ‘place myth’ that Toronto Tourism is trying to “imagineer”?
  • Is the Toronto Unlimited campaign trying to market Toronto as an event?
  • Marketing supports all areas of TT’s business to showcase Toronto as a remarkable business & leisure destination.
  • How? By telling the Greater Toronto story through integrated consumer campaigns & strategic media placement.
focus markets


Europe, Asia, Mexico

Niche markets:

Gay, luxury, business

Traditional markets:

Ontario + Border states

N. America mid-haul:

Boston, Chi., NY, Wash., Quebec

Urban adventure, getaway

Weekend getaways


Global arts and culture centre

Global arts and culture centre

Focus Markets
making up the city
‘Making up’ the City
  • Art
  • Gay/Lesbian
  • Lifestyle
  • Sports
  • Ethnic
  • Food
  • Architecture
  • Urban/social
challenges for branding toronto
Challenges for branding Toronto?
  • No brand exists in a vacuum
    • Part of a province
    • Part of a country
    • Part of North America, ie. US
    • Part of a competitive network of branded world cities
    • Part of global risk spaces and events
key to success
Key to success
  • New Cultural Economy
  • Imagineering
      • Cities marketed as one or multiple images

‘People have become caught up in nodes and images

which come not from their own individual experiences but

instead which are the artificial creation of the media’

producing the city as culture
Producing the City as Culture
  • Cultural economy: important in urban economic health
    • Distinction between economic and cultural increasingly blurred: cities use culture for economic gain
  • Example: Musicals, film festivals, sporting events, historic sites, exotic landscapes (including grey concrete suburbs) and art streets are tourist destinations and function as important income generators
city of culture
City of culture
  • Traditional urban cultural policy:
      • Maintenance of established cultural centres
      • Libraries, art galleries and museums
  • Contemporary cities:
      • Leisure and entertainment
      • Atypical lifestyles: San Francisco markets hippy lifestyle as part of their culture
      • Culture from high, to pop, to gay culture marketed
city as spectacle
City as spectacle
  • Global spectacles
    • Cultural globalisation
    • Brand identity: city marketed and sold
    • Raising international profile

‘There is a place war to host the Games to increase a city’s visibility, enhance its image and increase its competitive advantage in the global economy. Wannabe world cities compete for command functions and world spectacles. The Olympic Games are … an opportunity to be the site of a global spectacle, and hence confer international name recognition’

Spectacles used as urban promotional events
    • Not a recent phenomenon
      • London, 1851: The Great Exhibition
        • Crystal Palace, 17 acres development
      • Chicago, 1893: World’s Exhibition
        • Celebrate American business
        • City promotion: ‘open for business’
        • Beautification scheme
        • Venue created two parks from swampland
  • Importance of spectacle to cultural and urban change
to drive the point home
To drive the point home…

Conde Nast Traveller

the last resort hell
  • Ad Slogans: “Go to Hell,” “You’ll be Dying to Get Here,” “Damned Good Fun”
  • Spectacles: Ever-flaming Fire & Brimstone, Ferry ‘Cross the Styx’
  • Rides: Drop of Doom, From Here to Eternity, the Bottomless Pit
  • Costumed Employees: Croupiers from Hell, Cocktail Waitresses from Hell, Pit Bosses from Hell; His Royal Satanic Majesty
but wait there s more
  • Shops:
    • Needful Things
    • Hellmark Cards
    • Save My Sole Shoes
    • Rosemary’s Baby Shop
    • Devil May Care Clothing
    • Paradise Lost Luggage
    • Inferno Hot Tubs
    • Purgatory Pete’s Pets
    • Beetlejuice Julius
plus food drink entertainment
  • Souls on Fire Discotheque
  • Hellraiser’s Bar
  • Club Limbo
  • Deathwatch Dinner Theatre (Featuring the “Corpses on Parade” Musical Revue)
  • Faustus Follies
  • Hard Rock and a Hot Place
  • Beelzebubba’s Soul Food
satire is difficult in a town like this
  • “This is not a good town for psychedelic drugs. Reality itself is too twisted” (Hunter Thompson, Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas)
  • Kaleidoscopic (Jean Baudrillard)
    • Like Thee-Dimensional Television
    • Like a Postmodern Shopping Mall
  • An Uncoordinated Theme Park
  • Fantasy Pseudo-locales Drawing on Myth, Magic, the Exotic, Carnival, & Hollywood
liminal spaces
Liminal spaces
  • Places on the Margin
  • Liminality:
    • "moments of discontinuity in social space...moments of 'in between-ness', of a loss of social co-ordinates... Liminality represents a liberation from the regimes of normative practices and performance codes of mundane life...” (Shields, 1991: 83-4)
a brief history
  • Organized Crime Beginnings: Sin (Lust, Greed, Gluttony, Sloth), Transgression, Dystopia, Excess, Inversion, Carnivalesque -- a place at the margin
Enter Howard Hughes:The Buyout of the Mobs; Corporatization; Megaresorts
  • Mainstreaming/Theming:Hospitality Industry, Hollywood, Franchises, Family
las vegas as family fare effects of changes
  • More & More Diverse Tourists
  • But Not the Family Market of Disneyworld or Even of Los Angeles
  • People Don’t Come To Las Vegas to Gamble (anymore)
the infantalization of adults in las vegas
  • “This looks more like a playpen for the middle class and middle aged than the city of broken dreams.”
why infantalize adults
  • Infantalization Fosters Willing Suspension of Cognitive, Rational, Adult Control
    • We are open for experiences
    • We succumb to a dreamworld of possibilities (lost to an adult)
  • Thus, Once Infantalized by Magic, Fun, & Fantasy, Adults Make Better Tourists
    • Games Adult Infants Play: Dress-up, Pig Out, Stay up All Night
  • Liminoid Freedom & Transgressive Desire
the las vegas effect
The Las Vegas Effect
  • Indulgence & Hedonism
  • Some Gamblers Compulsive/Addicted
  • An Invitation to Excess/Gratification
  • Tacky, Shallow, Passive Materialism
but also
But also
  • Childish play nourishes imagination, hope, & unapologetic fun
  • Consumers have a deep need for Magic/Fantasy
conclusion consuming the cityscape
CONCLUSION: Consuming the Cityscape
  • City as Theme Park
  • Commercial and corporate production of Carnival.
    • Intense and guaranteed “experiences at the margins”
  • The artificial as authentic urban tourism experience