London Named One of the Top Three City Brands in the World

LONDON, September 14/PRNewswire/ —

- But New Study Warns Capital Must Create More Word-of-Mouth Buzz

Following the mayor of London’s announcement last week that London is to get an image makeover at the hands of marketing experts, data from a survey released today shows that the British themselves rate London behind New York and Sydney as a place-brand, and suggests that the city could do a lot more to get people talking about it.

Global ad agency Leo Burnett conducted research with leading pollster YouGov among 4,000 adults in the UK to understand their perceptions of 50 global cities, on a number of dimensions developed specifically to determine brand health.

London scored relatively highly across all dimensions contributing to brand strength, and came behind only New York and Rio de Janeiro in terms of ‘vibrancy of culture’. Somewhat counter intuitively, given the British propensity to complain about the weather, London polled the best score of all 50 cities when respondents were asked about the quality of its climate.

What let the city down however was the degree to which those asked claimed to have heard positive ‘buzz’ about their capital. London ranked 20th out of 50 cities on this question, behind Edinburgh, Dubai and Johannesburg – with less than 20 per cent of those questioned saying they often heard good things about the city.

Said Richard Pinder, president of Leo Burnett in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, “Cities are having to start thinking and acting more like brands than ever before. Increasingly they compete with each other for investment from global businesses, vie for the tourist dollar, struggle to attract world class talent – and as we’ve seen with the Olympic 2012 bid recently, fight tooth and nail for the right to host major global sporting events. You can’t place a high enough value on getting a city’s branding right today.”

Underscoring this, industry leaders have predicted that winning London’s bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games could earn the UK more than GBP2bn in extra tourism revenue, while JPMorgan Asset Management has gone further and said that London can expect to see a lift of as much as 0.4 per cent in its GDP as a result of the Olympics coming to town.

But if the capital is to seize the top spot in any future ranking of world city brands, and maximise the associated revenue potential, it must address the one particular area of weakness highlighted by the survey findings: if one assumes that the British are more, rather than less likely to show bias towards their own, then the fact that less than 20% of people polled agreed they hear much positive word-of-mouth about their capital appears worrying. Continued Pinder, “Whether it’s a result of our reputation for being self-depricating and overly modest, or whingeing poms with little that’s positive to say about anything, London is going to have to start blowing its trumpet a bit more: creating talk-value for the capital necessarily means shouting about what’s going on there that’s fresh and exciting, and London’s got plenty of it today.”

Other cities under consideration from the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland in the survey included Edinburgh, Dublin, Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham and Belfast. While Edinburgh and Dublin both appear in the top half of the World Cities Brand Index (in 14th and 24th places respectively) – Manchester, Cardiff, Birmingham and Belfast all fail to make the grade with Brits, each appearing in the bottom fifth of the chart along with the likes of Seoul, Lima, Jakarta and Delhi. Beirut – once famously dubbed the ‘Paris of the Middle East’ – sits in unenviable 50th position in the chart, its image no doubt damaged following years of civil war.

Experts in branding and advertising, and with client experience that includes tourism advertising for Switzerland, Thailand, Singapore, and Norway, researchers at Leo Burnett constructed the World Cities Brand Index from a number of dimensions which together determine brand health. Said Lee McEwan, head of research at Leo Burnett in London, “Our desk research and preliminary discussions with UK consumers and business people revealed five factors that determine the overall health of a global city brand: 1) vibrancy of the culture 2) standard of living 3) attractiveness as a holiday or short break destination 4) suitability of the climate and 5) positive word-of-mouth. The LB World City Index represents all of these concepts.”

New York, Sydney and London topped the list of the 50 leading city brands worldwide, ahead of Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Las Vegas, LA, Toronto and San Francisco respectively.

Beijing came in in 35th place, but is expected to rise sharply in next year’s ranking as the 2008 Olympics approach, and the city moves its branding machine up a gear to fully capitalise on the event.

About Leo Burnett

With 52 offices in the EMEA region, the agency handle many of the world’s most famous brands, including Ikea, McDonald’s, Nintendo and the H.J. Heinz Company. Leo Burnett EMEA is part of a global network of over 200 operating units spanning 84 markets. EMEA’s regional headquarters is based in London, with sub-regional hubs for CEE (Central and Eastern Europe) and MENA (Middle East and North Africa).

The world’s seventh largest agency network (as ranked by Advertising Age in April 2004), Leo Burnett Worldwide ( is a wholly owned subsidiary of Publicis Groupe (, the world’s fourth largest communications group. The Gunn Report has ranked Leo Burnett among the five most awarded agency networks globally for four consecutive years.

About YouGov

YouGov is a research company using online panels to provide research for public policy, market research, and stakeholder consultation. YouGov has a track record as the UK’s most accurate pollster. In all five of the YouGov polls where data could be compared to actual outcomes (including the UK general election, the Australian election, the Pop Idol contest), YouGov was within 1% of the actual result.

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