Five place marketing partnerships that took collaboration to the next level

We talk a lot about internal collaboration between destination marketing organisations and economic development organisations in order to tell a more holistic story about your place. But how can you go above and beyond that? Here are some of our favourite outside-the-box approaches to collaboration to inspire your next partnership!


Collaboration through competition: Finland’s Capital of Metal

Metal music is more than a subculture in Finland. The values of the Metal community of inclusivity and togetherness resonated with the Finnish nation brand as well and mirrored the aspects of Finnish society that they wanted to showcase. Following a statement from Barack Obama that Finland had perhaps the most Metal bands per capita, the team at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland set out to identify which city was the true Capital of Metal. Alongside partnerships with key stakeholders in the Metal music industry, the strategy rested heavily on engagement from participating cities – and of course the Metal bands themselves.

The campaign leveraged competition to promote collaboration, igniting community pride and encouraging cities to become active participants in Finland’s nation brand strategy.


Reaching a common audience: London & Paris

London and Paris are two of the biggest city brands in the world. Given their proximity, the cities each use the other as a benchmark for in rankings and indexes. However, the two competitors came together in order to attract a common audience of younger American travellers. Research showed that a large pool of 18 – 34 year olds had never come to either city yet intended to do so. Critically, seven out of ten stated that they were willing to visit both cities in one trip due to their proximity.

The two cities came together for a joint campaign to raise intent and consideration to visit amongst their target audience. The campaign ran from October 2018 to August 2019, and the teams worked in tandem through out planning and implementation. Ultimately, the campaign increased consideration of visiting London and Paris by 27% and 24% respectively, and 52% of people said that they would consider a combined trip. By embracing the spirit of ‘one team, one project,’ two mega-cities were able to collaborate towards a shared end goal and create real impact.



Putting place at the heart of your story: Sheffield

This campaign is slightly out of step with the other examples on this list, in that it takes place within a city, as opposed to being a collaboration between different cities or nations. However, it does very much still centre on ways in which organisations can rise above their natural competitiveness to create something greater than themselves.

This summer, Sheffield, UK, launched a campaign targeting 17 -18 year olds in the process of deciding what university they wanted to attend. The student attraction campaign was created in conjunction with the City Council’s marketing body, Marketing Sheffield, and the city’s two universities. However, rather than focusing on the individual universities, the campaign put the city in the forefront. By focusing on place, the three organisations were able to find a common lens through which to talk to their target audience and could address the perception gap that many of them had.


Promoting shared values: The Nordic Region

The Nordic Council of Ministers is an intergovernmental co-operation between eight Nordic Countries: Aaland, Denmark, Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Despite their differences in size, nature, and nation branding strategies, the Nordic commonality of openness, trust, innovation, compassion, and sustainability create a foundation for a regional place brand strategy that adds value to each nation without cannibalising their individual strategies.

Nordic Talks was created as part of this joint place branding initiative. It serves as a global intersectional platform for discussions on solutions and actions to solve the challenges we face as a global community – all while emphasising the Nordic perspective and ways of thinking. The Nordic Talks have helped position the region as a place where the world can look to for inspiration.


Celebrating common threads: Brixton & Harlem

Brixton – a district in South London – and Harlem – a neighbourhood in New York City – have more in common than you might expect. So last year, Brixton Business Improvement District and Harlem’s 125th Street Business Improvement District launched a first of its kind twinning. Through their shared place values, the two BIDs are working together to celebrate their partnership and forge new relationships between two radical communities of colour.

Alongside plans for a five-day festival in Brixton to bring the twinning to life and explore the similarities between the two communities, new collaborative opportunities between local businesses. For example, the Brixton Brewery partnered with Harley Brewing Co to create a limited-edition beer, while a ‘beer exchange’ initiative allows bar goers in New York and London to buy each other a drink from across the pond. The collaboration allows each place to celebrate their individuality while generating new opportunities for the communities to learn and be inspired by one another.



Collaboration isn’t necessarily easy – particularly when you’re looking outside of your own borders. But by forging those connections, it’s possible to create something really special. As you start looking towards new potential partnerships, here are a few tips to help you ensure a successful collaboration:

  • Look for partnerships with places or organisations who have shared values or interests. A collaboration with a strong foundation of commonality will be more successful.
  • Each partner will have their own stakeholders that they need to assuage. Being respectful of this and understanding when to concede can make for a much smoother partnership
  • Decide what success looks like early on and how you’re planning to measure it so that each demonstrate the value of the partnership to their stakeholders.
  • Think outside the box. The best partnership for your place might be just down the road, or it might be on the other side of the world!


Mark Mobbs, Claire Hamilton, and Richelle Quinn will be joining us at City Nation Place UK this November 9 to share more detail on the partnership between Marketing Sheffield and the two universities. 

Brixton BID’s Gianluca Rizzo will also be sharing details on the twinning relationship with Harlem as part of the agenda for both City Nation Place UK and City Nation Place Global.

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