ScottishPower Planetarium Glasgow

Were the Commonwealth Games good for brand Glasgow?

From late July until early August the Commonwealth sporting circus descended on Glasgow, and the world’s eyes watched. Could the Clydeside city – once notorious for its volatile character and reputation – really put on ‘the friendly games’ the pre-event PR promised?

Before answering that, it’s worth acknowledging that Glasgow has had a transformative rebrand since its days as a tempestuous, post-industrial ship building graveyard. The city reinvented its purpose, marketing itself as a cultural centre and home to Scotland’s arts scene.

Prior to the games getting underway, some press and media attention focused – somewhat unfairly – on the idea that we shouldn’t expect a repeat of London 2012 north of the border. The opening ceremony won’t be as lavish, we were advised. The venues aren’t purpose built just for the occasion, they told us. It probably wasn’t the sort of coverage the games organisers were looking for.

Sure enough, the opening ceremony wasn’t an Olympic extravaganza but then this wasn’t the Olympics. However, once the action started, that same sense emerged as at London 2012 of a great ‘home’ city playing host to a special event, with world-class sporting fixtures set against familiar backdrops including the ‘Armadillo’ and Kelvingrove.

Athletes from all corners of the Commonwealth praised the people of Glasgow for their welcome and the Federation president, Prince Imran, declared at the closing ceremony that Glasgow had delivered ‘in every aspect the best games ever’.

I was lucky enough to get tickets to the gymnastics – held in the gleaming Hydro – and athletics at Hampden Park. From my point of view as a spectator with an eye on image, not everything was perfect. Away from the polished hub of Clydeport, some of the official signed walking routes to major venues like Hampden exposed some of Glasgow’s less salubrious side and, despite years to prepare, led us along pavements made almost impassable by overgrown trees. In the venues, though, organisation was first-class and the atmosphere electric.

Overall, with the home nations also enjoying great success in the medals table, the games were definitely a domestic and international public relations triumph for ‘brand Glasgow’. The city enjoyed a huge tourism boost, possibly from visitors who would never have gone otherwise but will now return for more.

What doesn’t appear to have materialised is the post-games bounce for the independence ‘yes’ campaign – but that’s a whole different ball game!

To find out how we can help your PR and marketing campaigns achieve gold standard, please contact us at Red Marlin.


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