Selling the City’s Cool Side: ‘Something is Afoot in St. Louis’

By on March 15, 2019

by David Hunn

 From STLToday: A group of regional businesses and civic organizations are funding a marketing campaign with a novel approach: They hope to persuade St. Louisans that St. Louis is cool.

STLMade launched on Thursday at the high-ceilinged, concrete-walled, microbrew-serving Venture Café, to a room packed with hundreds of artists, scientists, hipsters, executives and computer nerds.

The campaign’s first goal, said marketing maestro Lee Broughton, is to highlight all of the quirky, artsy, high-tech and innovative things happening here, in the hopes of showing St. Louis how hip it actually is.

“We are being noticed as a place on fire right now,” Broughton said. “It doesn’t matter where you look at it, whether it’s culture, whether it’s community or whether it’s business. Something is afoot in St. Louis. We believe it is renaissance, and it is our time to project that perception.”

But telling the story of St. Louis to St. Louisans is just a first step, he said. Soon, Broughton plans on going national. He hopes the combination of local focus and a national campaign will change the country’s view of the region, drive businesses to locate here, and ultimately jump-start stagnant population growth.

St. Louis has a history of trying and failing at civic-pride marketing campaigns, said David Meyer, a founder and partner at St. Louis agency Spoke Marketing. Such efforts are often run by big business, and they’ve generally failed to convince St. Louisans on the value of their own city.

But Meyer said he’s excited about this one. If it reaches out to real St. Louisans, if it depicts a diverse community, if it persuades locals to get involved, it may actually instill pride in the region, he said.

“People always say they live here because of the commute, the cheap living — insert apologetic reason here,” Meyer said. “What if instead it’s because of the art scene, the food scene?”

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