Positively Cleveland launches #ThisIsCLE tourism initiative to focus on city's 'hidden gems'

CLEVELAND - The campaign was years in the making but it's one organizers hope will pay dividends for decades to come.

Wednesday, Positively Cleveland rolled out their new branding campaign to celebrate that which makes Cleveland different and unique, showcasing a city that is bold, proud and unapologetic.

As its anthem video points out, “under the right conditions – pressure can create diamonds.”

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame President & CEO Greg Harris said the campaign has a lot of the spirit of rock and roll and the city in it.

“It's got a lot of grit, it's got a lot of swagger, it's got a lot of attitude and it really underscores that this is a great city and all of us need to believe in that and run with it,” Harris said.

Positively Cleveland Board Chairman Len Komoroski said it doesn’t apologize for what we are and how we got here but runs with it.

“At the end of the day let rest of the world think what they think but if we're comfortable in our skin and represent that well that 's something that will have the broader appeal,” he said.

The campaign isn’t about a tagline or a slogan but about changing people’s attitudes. Research showed that nationally people over the age of 45 especially still had a negative opinion of Cleveland fueled by the late night talk show jokes of the 70s.

But there's a disconnect here at home, too. Only 34 percent of Cuyahoga County residents willing to recommend Cleveland as a place to visit. In peer markets like Pittsburgh that number is up around 60 percent.

“We have to understand and even appreciate why they think the way they do and what we could do to change their mind and then attack that,” said Positively Cleveland President David Gilbert.

The goal for people outside of Cleveland is to get them to come and experience what the city has to offer for research has shown when they do they leave with a different attitude, the same he believes will hold true with those who fall into that local 34 percent.

“I don't think it's going to be some ad campaign that's going to change their minds but we have to get people to know that locals make a difference, if you like something about Cleveland talk about it or if you haven't tried it go try it,” said Gilbert.

“If you just go to your local restaurant on every Friday night, venture out and try somewhere else, try a hike in the MetroParks, go downtown and see a show, go to a neighborhood you haven't been to and you will see stuff you like and it will start to change your mind about the same things that a visitor starts to like,” he said.

“It's not going to be immediate but it will happen.”

The target of the campaign will be for the most part in markets within three hours of Cleveland.

“We've kept a lot of powder dry,” Gilbert said. “We've known we were going to do this, we saved our money, we've kept those pennies in the piggy bank for the last several years so that for 2014 and the next couple of years we can be out there in a larger way than we might otherwise would have.”

Part of their campaign includes the hashtag #ThisIsCLE to help turn around perceptions of the city by focusing on its hidden gems.

The campaign is laid out at thisiscleveland.com and offers this video as a summary of the brand campaign.

This description accompanies the video: 

Cleveland has never followed anyone else's rules, we made our own. That's because the city where rock was born knows a thing or two about passion, freedom and doing things your way. Sure, there's been pressure. But under the right conditions, pressure can create diamonds.

So, if you like a bit of grit mixed with sophistication in a place where you can eat bucatini pasta served with beef jerky, dance to world music on the front lawn of a renowned art museum or do yoga in front of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame -- and all in a city where we don't take ourselves too seriously -- then come to Cleveland. We'd love to have you join us.

We've never been flashy, trendy or perfect. And for that, you're welcome.

Do you think this campaign will be successful? Tell us in the comments.

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