From ‘age friendly city’ to ‘feel the power’: ACT marketing fails and successes

SEPTEMBER 9 2016 – 4:12PM

Clare Sibthorpe

Flag of the Australian Capital Territory

It seems the ACT government’s “age friendly city” slogan for Canberra number plates did not get a very friendly welcome.

While Canberrans offer a wealth of ideas in the hope the ACT government’s new plate hits the mark, a marketing expert explores some tourism promotions that have shone or failed in the capital.

This "Feel the Power" jet was used in a campaign to promote Canberra under former ACT chief minister Kate Carnell's ...
This “Feel the Power” jet was used in a campaign to promote Canberra under former ACT chief minister Kate Carnell’s government in 1998. Photo: Supplied

Just fewer than 1964 ACT number plates have touted the catchphrase “Canberra – Age Friendly City” since they became available in July last year after winning the ACT government’s number plate competition.

It’s not known whether much love was ever felt for the controversial “Feel the Power of Canberra” number plates that were maligned by the public after it was included in a Carnell government advertising campaign in 1998. But at least 343 vehicles are still holding on to the turbo-charged message.

There are currently 1964 Canberrans driving around with "Canberra – Age friendly city" number plates.
There are currently 1964 Canberrans driving around with “Canberra – Age friendly city” number plates. Photo: Lannon Harley/ ACT Government

“Canberra the Nation’s Capital” remains the most popular plates despite being around since 1979, still decorating 133,133 vehicles, while 58,589 vehicles have the “Canberra – Heart of the Nation” plate and 42,870 plates read “Celebration of a Century”.

Those who filled out the Canberra Times‘ online poll also overwhelmingly preferred “The nation’s capital” and “Heart of the nation” over Canberra’s other number plate slogans, with just 1 per cent of the some 800 voters favouring the “age friendly city” or “celebration of a century,” and one in 10 choosing “Feel the power of Canberra”.

Among the suggestions readers gave for the ACT Government’s new number plate competition, to be shortlisted for public vote in November, were “the most liveable city,” and “Canberra – Your capital” while some tongue-in-cheek ideas were “the cold never bothered us anyway” and “the roundabout capital”.

Whether choosing number plate slogans or developing extensive marketing campaigns, marketing professor from the University of Canberra, Dr Rachel Johns, says there are clear moves to avoid.

Jeremy Lasek on City Beach to promote Wollongong folks to migrate to Canberra for the 2006 Live in Canberra campaign.
Jeremy Lasek on City Beach to promote Wollongong folks to migrate to Canberra for the 2006 Live in Canberra campaign. Photo: Greg Totman

She said the Carnell government’s extravagant and controversial decision to splash “feel the power of Canberra” on a jet was not the best way to deliver the message and definitely not the best message to send.

She believed it reinforced the perceptions that Canberra was merely a public-sector city and was not surprised that some residents were afraid to cross the border with the seemingly arrogant number plates.

But she praised the ACT government’s “quietly confident” $2.6 million “CBR” tourism campaign that launched in 2014, which stands for “Confident, Bold, Ready”.

At the time, critics slammed the campaign and its video which boasted Canberra’s “economic and social advantages” as bland and disappointing.

“A lot of people didn’t understand the purpose of branding Canberra, but I think it was simple and effective,” she said.”It shows the city’s vibrance and appeals to a range of target groups.”

She also loved the ACT’s unique viral marketing “Human Brochure” campaign, which won a major prize at the Australian Tourism Awards in 2014.

The world-first campaign saw 500 people visit Canberra for a weekend and share their experiences using social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram.

“I think it was fabulous and a lot of it was targeting Canberra locals so they would change their own perception of Canberra and promote it in blogs and social media,” she said.

“So it was as much about residents as it was about visitors in helping changing mentalities around Canberra being a boring city, which I think we’ve done well in recent years.”

In 2006, the ACT government teamed up with the University of Technology in Sydney to run a comprehensive “Live in Canberra” campaign.

It was an effort to get people to move from Sydney and the NSW coast due to a skilled labour shortage.

UTS research concluded the campaign, which consisted of brochures, advertisements, a website and call centre, was successful, with 558 calls received, 620 information packs requested, and “a number” of residents moving to the capital less than 10 weeks after the campaign launched.


Source : The Canberra Times

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