With staff calling the upcoming World Figure Skating Championships “the biggest opportunity” the city has ever had to promote itself, councillors are supporting plans to spend more money to do just that.
During the Corporate Services Committee meeting on Tuesday (Jan. 8), members were presented with a proposal to spend an additional $100,000 on the Welcoming the World to London promotional campaign. The $100,000 funding request — which was unanimously supported by the committee, but still needs council approval — would be drawn from the city’s budget contingency reserve.
The city council has already committed $600,000 to promotion of the upcoming World Figure Skating Championships.
Elaine Gamble, director of corporate communications, outlined the campaign proposal to use a new logo, and the slogan Canada’s London, throughout all promotion elements.
“Skate Canada has done a fantastic job of planning everything that goes on around the Budweiser Gardens,” Gamble said. “But what we would like to do is expand that experience so visitors get the full opportunity to experience everything that is exciting about London.”
The campaign includes outdoor advertising (bus shelters, billboards, banners), television, newspaper and online advertising and several 30-second videos. Indoor options in the campaign includes banners and advertising in hotels, local businesses and restaurants.
Online, a Canada’s London website will include videos, photos and social media posts from Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The website will also link to the city and partner websites for further information on the city, parking, restaurants, attractions, promotions and news.
A social media campaign will also encourage visitors and London residents alike to take photos from around the city and share them with others.
Gamble, who was one of the project team partners along with city and community officials such as Kadie Ward from London Economic Development Corporation, Andrew Halwa from London Arts Council and Janette MacDonald from Downtown London.
“It is an incredible time for us when we see all the partners around the table wanting to make this successful. We have managed to secure about $80,000 so far from out partners for carrying out this campaign.”
Earlier council debates around city spending in connection with the championships often became heated. The discussions on Tuesday around the Canada’s London proposal, however, were unanimously supportive.
“It really is a call to action for London to put its best foot forward,” Swan said. “While we can provide the basic frameworks, provide some key messaging; it is up to London to get involved.”
Mayor Joe Fontana, long a supporter of the championships, mirrored Swan’s comments, but also said he was excited to see how many community partners have already come forward to support the event and the Canada’s London proposal. Fontana pointed to Western University, Fanshawe College, Western Fair District and the “six or seven or eight key partners” who are contributing support for the promotion aspects focused around the championships.
“This is the most important thing that this city will do, I think, in its lifetime. This is about as big as it gets,” Fontana said. “We want to make sure that the day after London residents are proud, but all those people who leave the city, or who tuned in through TV or social media, will say that is one hell of a city, Canada’s London.”
Ward 5 Councillor Joni Baechler and Ward 12 Councillor Harold Usher — who aren’t Corporate Service Committee members, but sat in on the meeting — did express some concerns around the new Canada’s London logo and some of the graphic elements of the Alive posters. Usher said he was somewhat concerned the new logo was difficult to understand while Baechler asked what the thought process was around “logo confusion,” which she said could possibly cause confusion with the city’s existing corporate logo.
Gamble said the new logo — a script-style word London with a maple leaf as the second letter o — was well received by the community and that she had heard from various community groups that there is a place for both the new design and the more traditional corporate green tree logo to be used.
The World Figure Skating Championships is set for March 11-17 and is expected to attract 150 million viewers worldwide, showcasing over 200 athletes from 50 countries. It is also anticipated that over 300 media outlets will be present to cover the championships.
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