Urban Fold

‘This is Cleveland’ Rebranding Appeals to Millennials, Hipsters

Positively Cleveland, Northeast Ohio’s tourism bureau, has launched a new campaign, “This is Cleveland,” that takes a new tack in selling the region not for its orchestra and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but rather for its warts and all.
Robert J. Daveant / Shutterstock

Mark Naymik reviews a new campaign to sell the city of Cleveland (and surrounding environs) as a cool, gritty place to live.

“In the past, branding efforts looked and felt like they were guided by civic leaders in tailored suits who were in love with downtown skyscrapers, Blossom Music Center and beautiful homes in Shaker Heights.”

Not so with “This is Cleveland”: “The new campaign looks like it was guided by hipsters in love with Ohio City, Tremont and downtown (and perhaps themselves).”

Naymik is ambivalent about the campaign saying that the campaign tries a little too hard, but manages to hit the tone it’s going for anyway. The latter achievement is no small feat given the tight rope branding needs to walk in Cleveland: “It doesn't matter how awesome our orchestra is – the orchestra is still in Cleveland and that's the problem. The campaign is about changing the narrative – or meaning – of the word Cleveland.”

Cleveland's brand has struggled in recent years, which explains the efforts of Positively Cleveland, but researchers have recently been able to point to good news from U.S. Census data about the city's net gains in highly educated residents.  


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