Trend 2: Bloggers Are The New City-Branders

Most bloggers with an international audience write a lot about what happens in their home town — the place were they live and know about all the good stuff happening there. Doing so, they are great ambassadors of their city (most of the times unconsciously), and do a great job when it comes to promoting local excellence among a large group of influentials around the world. With their work, bloggers like Nalden (culture/lifestyle, Amsterdam), the Amsterdam Ad Blog (creativity/advertising, Amsterdam), Wooster Collective (street art, New York City), The Sartorialist (fashion, New York City) and Rebel Art (street art, Berlin) have established loyal crowds on an international scale and gained a solid position next to official marketing campaigns when it comes to setting the image of a city.

Official city-marketing campaigns initiated and controlled by local governments mostly try to tell the same story since they all want to attract the same kind of people to their towns — ‘international knowledge workers’. Bloggers, on the other hand, have a huge worldwide online audience and report about specific themes, styles and subcultures that more specifically characterize the city. In Copenhagen both elements come together. While the Danish capital officially tries to brand itself as world’s bike capital, blogs such as Copenhagenize and Copenhagen Cycle Chic independently report about innovative and inspiring bike culture in the city.

In the years to come, city-marketing could increasingly develop itself into an open source activity, thanks to technological innovation. Predict the people of Amsterdam-based cultural innovation office Non-Fiction, “we think the future of the city will be shaped by all of us together, via the technologies and tools we’ll have”. Although initiated by the ‘I Amsterdam’ city-marketing people, this approach could already be a signal for a more autonomous and open approach to city-marketing. The campaign asks tourists to explain (in video or writing) how they would spend € 1,000 in the Dutch capital. The most creative submission was rewarded with € 1,000 pocket money. Also interesting are the home-made parody city-marketing videos, for instance the one made by the Canadian comedian Mike Polk for the city of Cleveland. His happy video about the sad side of Cleveland was a hype on the Internet and encouraged the urban authorities to organize a contest for a more “positive” approach to tourism videos. Obviously, they did not get the point: “they might have been positive but they were not funny”, was stated on GOOD. Why should it only be governments to decide which identity about the city will be spread?

This article belongs to the Top 10 Trends For 2011. Over the last year we have been writing articles about urban culture and innovations in cities on a daily basis. Reflecting on 2010 and looking into 2011 we have put together a list with ten of the most remarkable trends that we spotted. We would like to deepen them out a little in a series of articles published this week on Pop-Up City.