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Chengdu's Self-Promotion

By Xie Liangbing (谢良兵)
Nation, page 14
Issue No. 565, Apr 16, 2012
Based on a translation by Li Meng 

Original article: [Chinese

What’s the first thing that comes into your head first when you think of Chengdu? Pandas? Well, the city is hoping that you’ll soon be thinking “wealth.”

The capital of Sichuan province has already featured in Kungfu Panda 2 and got its name onto Dakar Rally cars - next year it become the fourth Chinese city to host the Fortune Global Forum, which will be themed “China‘s New Future”.

The city has been trying to change its image ever since the catastrophic earthquake in 2008.

Chengdu’s slogan has changed from “a city you don’t want to leave” to “Because of you, Chengdu will have a better tomorrow.”

When the city government heard that Fortune wanted to organize another forum in China, it immediately decided to make a bid. Chengdu hired Apex Ogilvy, a joint venture between the global communications company and a Chengdu firm, formed a bidding committee and contacted Fortune’s managing editor, Andy Serwer.

Serwer later said that he had initially been worried about the city’s economic vitality, but that his doubts were dispelled by visits to Chengdu High-Tech Development Zone.

Chengdu has been at the forefront of city marketing in China, led since 2008 by a team of around 100 officials from tourism, real estate and investment divisions as well as local marketing executives. In 2011, the city’s publicity department launched a Chengdu channel on a Singaporean website and started the association with the Dakar Rally.

Apex Ogilvy said that Chengdu's marketing spend is allocated in the city’s budget and will grow in line with its economy. The marketing objectives have been approved by local people's congress.

Chengdu’s approach has been more successful than cities that promote themselves abroad by sending their mayors abroad in official delegations.

Other Chinese cities, such as Hangzhou and Xi‘an, have been able to use their tourist sites to attract investment, but, without such features, Chengdu has had to find other ways to differentiate itself. 


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