Hamilton in promotional overdrive
The ambitious target: To get more investment in ‘Canada’s biggest urban comeback story’
The City of Hamilton’s economic development department is going into marketing overdrive to attract GTA investors and developers.
This Wednesday, ec-dev is leading a swashbuckling two-day business and culture promotional happening in Toronto dubbed the “Hamilton Consulate.”
The eclectic event is intended to publicize and capitalize on what’s being billed as “Canada’s biggest urban comeback story.”
That follows on the heels of a $30,000 multimedia ad buy that included attentiongrabbing poster style ads in the Financial Post and online digital displays highlighting Hamilton as a great place to invest and build a business.
“Next stop, Hamilton — West Harbour GO station open” blares one of the half-page newspaper ads in a colourful and confident campaign that dovetails with this week’s Hamilton Consulate.
Make no mistake. This is not about attracting Toronto tourists or residential commuters.
“Clearly we’re trying to raise awareness in the Toronto business market and get more investment,” says economic development director Glen Norton.
The initiatives are fuelled by the department’s new five-year action plan and “stretch targets” for growing the city’s economy and generating new commercial and industrial dollars to ease the disproportionate property tax burden on homeowners.
The Hamilton Consulate is costing the city about $40,000, with roughly the same amount of money coming from sponsorships and in-kind services from the Hamilton business community.
The May 31 to June 1 event is being held at The Burroughes, a renovated historic building at Queen Street West and Bathurst. The program of panel discussions and displays will showcase, among other things, Hamilton’s booming real estate market, arts and culture scene, food and fashion landscape, and growing tech clusters.
It kicks off with Mayor Fred Eisenberger discussing post-industrial urban renewal with former Pittsburgh mayor Tom Murphy.
That’s followed by a panel discussion on Hamilton’s investment climate with Jason Thorne, the city’s general manager of economic development and planning, and several developers, including Toronto condo developer Brad Lamb, one of the builders behind the proposed “Television City” on the old CHCH-TV property downtown.
According to Norton, more than 1,000 invitations were sent to targeted players in the business and cultural communities across the GTA.
He says the idea of a splashy event in Toronto has been kicked around for a couple of years, but the Hamilton Consulate concept was brought into focus in partnership with the Toronto marketing firm Kim Graham and Associates. Graham lives in Hamilton and has space at Seedworks Urban Offices downtown.
The print and digital ad campaign with Postmedia kicked off in January. Ec-dev marketing co-ordinator Michael Marini says the idea is to attract GTA businesses with the “very hard economic arguments” of a less-congested and less-expensive urban setting that also has a tremendous amount to offer from a quality-of-life perspective.
That’s reflected in the sleek print ads, produced by Hamilton’s The Laundry Design Works, which feature artful images of manufacturing, health services, the art crawl, harbour, and cultural, creative and tech sectors.
According to Norton, preliminary analytics measuring the effectiveness of the campaign are looking good.
They’ve had almost a 75 per increase in “new visitors” to the department’s website, with some 55 per cent in the targeted 25-to-45 age bracket.
Additionally, the digital ads that roll prior to a news clip scored 178,000 impressions, of which 122,824 watched the whole thing.
A full analysis package is pending. Meanwhile, ec-dev will track the success of the Hamilton Consulate through upticks in business meetings, calls and scouting missions to the city.
Ec-dev has to try new things to keep development momentum going, says Norton. Through a combo of content and panache, that appears to be exactly what they’re doing.