Let’s Paint The World’s Ugliest City

With the project Couleurs Carolo, the Dutch company AkzoNobel aims to support the Belgian city of Charleroi to become a bit more colorful.

The world-leading corporation, that obviously earns its money with producing paint, invests loads of money to add some color to the city that has been ‘officially’ declared the most ugly town in the world. The painting strategy which has worked very well in Tirana and in the Brazilian favelas before, should make the gray declined industrial urban lay-out of Charleroi a little more happy.

On six strategic spots in the city the campaign is rolled out. For each of these spots a local color ambassador has been commissioned. He or she advises about the right color related to the community. The local architect Georgios Maillis leads the whole operation from an artistic point of view. The whole operation will be executed during this Summer. Each ambassador has to form his or her own team with local painters, this way the project is said to also contribute to a sense of community in the six neighborhoods.

Interesting here is the fact that this is neither a local government’s initiative, as it was in Tirana, nor an individual artist’s idea, like in Brazil, but a project initiated by a huge international company. Therefore this is another example that fits with the marketing is urbanismtrend that we wrote about at the beginning of this year as one of the most important trends in contemporary urbanism. Big brands are increasingly happy to invest in cities, also when it comes to projects not related to their head office. Of course they want to do some brand promotion on the site, which makes it a complicated kind of deal. A good ‘marketing is urbanism’ campaign should add a lot of value to the community and be very reticent in the brand promotion part. It’s not a matter of advertising by shouting, but advertising by contributing.