Marketing rebrand for county borough – but Porthcawl could be a problem, say consultants

Friday, 1 April 2016

By Philip Irwin

in Local People

Tourism experts called in to look at how Wales markets itself have looked at Bridgend county borough and have called for a marketing rebrand in preparation for a wave of advertising that will target new visitors.

The All-Wales Tourism Alliance (AWTA) has employed the high-powered London marketing consulatncy McCain and McCall (MC2) to review current strategy, and the experts have come up with some radical suggestions.

Fergus McCall of MC2 told The GEM: “We think this strategy could transform tourism in the area. It’s all to do with establishing a brand identity.

“However, it has been suggested to us that we might have a problem with Porthcawl.”

Mr McCall explained: “Looking at south Wales, Cardiff is doing fine, as a vibrant city with high consumer recognition thanks to Dr Who and Torchwood.

“Barry Island has a high profile, thanks to Gavin and Stacey, and because ’Island’ tells you that it is a coastal resort. Swansea and all points west are in good shape too. Outsiders see that area as ’the real Wales’.

“Bridgend county borough has the three valleys, the Garw, Llynfi and Ogmore, and local history such as the castles at Coity and Ogmore, and also a seaside resort in Porthcawl, so it has potential.

“The problem is that people just don’t have a sense that all these plus points are in the same area. If you take Porthcawl, for instance, and survey people from outside Wales who have never been there, you find that they haven’t a clue where it is.”

He continued: “Think of it this way. Nike doesn’t have different names for its trainers, sportswear and sports equipment – it is all branded as Nike. That is what we need to aim at with Bridgend county borough.”

He said that focus group testing had identified the perfect name for the area – ’GlamOgwr’.

He said: “We think it is perfect. Ogwr is genuine Welsh, I am told, and Glam has echoes of Glamorgan. That has much more brand recognition. Didn’t Gary Sobers hit his six sixes in an over against Glamorgan?

“If the next wave of tourism advertising is to work, we need to emphasise the attractions of GlamOgwr. We can’t have different place names competing for space and confusing people – which brings me to the Porthcawl problem.

“We think Porthcawl needs to take a lesson from the continent, and I would offer the example of Ostia in Italy. It’s on the coast about 15 miles from Rome, with beautiful beaches.

“For some time it was ’Ostia’ and then, to emphasise its beaches, it changed its name to ’Lido di Ostia’. That helped tourism, but what really helped it grow rapidly in popularity was when it changed its name to ’Lido di Roma’.

“Any money spent promoting Rome had a spin off to Ostia, and it has never looked back. I understand that Lido di Jesolo, near Venice, is considering a name change to ’Lido di Venezia’.

“That is why we think Porthcawl should adopt a new name, that of ’GlamOgwr Lido’. At a stroke, anyone contemplating a trip to Wales will know where Porthcawl is, and that it is on the coast. GlamOgwr would become in people’s minds an area of great variety, and also be a great base to stay between Cardiff and Swansea.

“We envisage that the name change could be gradual. It could be ’GlamOgwr Lido – Porthcawl’ at first but we could gradually increase the typeface of GlamOgwr Lido, and reduce the typeface of Porthcawl. After 10 years, the transformation should be complete.

“I know some people will instinctively oppose this but they should ask themselves the question: ’If someone had done this 30 years ago, would anyone be bothered now?’

He concluded: “This strategy has, in my opinion, to be adopted as a complete package. It can’t be cherry picked. i really hope that people in Porthcawl will come on board.”

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