Sustaining a brand through proactive repair: the case of Manchester

Little, Stephen (2012). Sustaining a brand through proactive repair: the case of Manchester. In: Go, Frank and Govers, Robert eds. International Place Branding Yearbook 2012: Smart Growth and Sustainability. Basingstoke: Palgrave-macmillan, pp. 103–118.



The current global recession has created economic and social pressures on governments at national and local level. Currently regional and urban governments in England are under pressure from two directions – the national government’s rejection of regional development mechanisms in the form of regional development agencies and their replacement with ad hoc “local enterprise partnerships”, and the bottom-up dissatisfaction and unrest resulting from the consequences of severe austerity measures.

In August 2011 the bottom-up reaction was expressed in an extreme form in London, with the civil unrest which spread from the north to the south of the capital with considerable damage to property, before erupting in four other major cities. Five lives were lost in addition to the fatal shooting by police which triggered the initial Tottenham riot. These disturbances preceded the “Occupy” movement, part of a wider and more focused international expression of dissatisfaction with the governance of financial institutions and national government austerity programs.

In the run up to the 2012 Olympics, and as the main tourist destination for the UK, as well as being the financial center, London was most widely affected by the perceived loss of confidence in urban governance and the consequent damage to its brand image, a situation not helped by the draconian sentencing of a range of minor offenders. The Guardian newspaper reported that a Manchester mother of two was jailed for five months for receiving a pair of shorts given to her after they had been looted from a city center store; while in London, a 23-year-old student was jailed for six months for stealing £3.50 worth of bottled water from a supermarket (The Guardian 2011a). While satisfying some elements of public opinion these sentences gave the impression of a deeply threatened system of government.

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