Partnership for Communication: collaboration or copying?


A brief by Elise Baudelet, junior expert in territorial marketing at CAAC

Recently, two articles (1) published on the blogosphere were dealing with the reusing of public communication from one place to another. The CAAC, involved in territorial cooperation projects such as AT Brand, supports cooperation for communication as well as exchange of good practices and know-how between cities. Thus, when a place makes a partnership for city branding, is it always relevant? The border between collaborating and copying may be very thin. How to assess the risks?

Working together helps to pool assets and to share costs. Moreover, on particular topics such as city branding or communications, cities may lack of resources (eg: experts, time, finance…) if those are not considered as a core activity. Therefore, capitalizing on successful experiences of others is a thoughtful investment.

However, basing a city campaign on a previous one may have drawbacks. For instance, after the success of the “I Love New York” campaign, numerous cities were inspired by it (ie: Amsterdam; Munich; Limburg…). Using (almost) the same campaign loses its added value. People see identical messages and then are less receptive to them. As cities not only cooperate but also compete against each other, they need to demonstrate their uniqueness. Innovation and creativity are keys for differentiation.

Moreover, places are diverse: what is working in one may not work in another. Copying and pasting without any adaptation to the local issues, culture or targets will face efficiency issues. The strategic dimension of communication is lost when actions are not defined to achieve a strategic goal. Communication is more than a beautiful logo or a catchy baseline: it has to serve a global strategy. As it is thorny to come up with a new idea, benchmark would define a positioning. Nevertheless, communicants have to, at least, adapt what they reuse.

Growing from their similarities, places have more efficient cooperation. For instance, the sharing of cultural, historic and geographical dimensions strengthens the cooperation of the Atlantic cities, formalised in an international association. In addition, to maximise effectiveness, they may discuss guidelines, strategic steps instead of final content. So as to implement a glocal strategy (summing-up in this motto: “Think global, Act local”), cities would build its assets around thinking and exchanging at a global level to define their critical orientations while thinking their concrete application regarding local issues, needs and targets.

(1): Marc Thebault – Vamos a la … plagiat ! ; Ma vie de chargé de com’ – Copier-coller 


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