The new chief executive of Advantage West Midlands says it is high time that Birmingham and the region as a whole learned how to market itself properly.

And despite apparently rating Marketing Birmingham, the agency created to do that job, Mick Laverty has revealed he is setting up a regional marketing board to tackle the problem.

It would be interesting to know what Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham who Mr Laverty also “rates”, makes of this suggestion.

Mr Laverty’s new-look board would seek to co-ordinate the activities of Marketing Birmingham and other agencies in the region, such as InStaffs. He clearly wants a more joined up approach and feels a region-wide umbrella body is the way forward.

And yet I can’t help thinking the last thing that the West Midlands is another board.

Isn’t it simply adding yet another layer of bureaucracy to an already confused and confusing picture?

The likes of Marketing Birmingham have a tough enough time cutting through the red tape and dealing with the slow-working public sector machinery and machinations without adding yet another body it has to contend with and appease.

Marketing Birmingham has made progress, but there is still criticism that can be levelled at the agency as highlighted by this recent attempt by The Guardian to locate the city’s cafe culture. The article features the usual suspects that Marketing Birmingham will want to push, but as some point out it doesn’t exactly give a true flavour of the city.

Yet part of Birmingham’s problem is identifying what that “true flavour” actually is.

It is a city that means so much to so many different people, making marketing Birmingham difficult enough without having to deal with layer upon layer of bureaucracy that effectively stifles any creativity and progressive-thinking that might exist.

The aim of the Big City Plan appears to be to engage everyone to answer some of these important questions about Birmingham – what it is; what it will be; and what it wants to be? But, again, progress on the big plan is not as swift as some would like.

AWM’s new top man has a point, although there is an element of glass houses syndrome in his observations given some of the recent less than glowing reaction of the business community to his agency’s performance.

It is also good to see him acknowledge the strength and potential of Birmingham’s digital media and creative industries.

But I’m sure if he had gone to Neil Rami and asked what AWM could do to provide more effective help and support to Marketing Birmingham, the answer would not have included “create yet another region-wide body we have to answer to as well”.

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  1. […] as though you know that there’s a proper city under there somewhere, you just can’t quite see it any more.” // Birmingham(Leamington?) photographer Ben Sutton: 26 Found People set, 50 Women […]

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