Marc Thébault on Place Marketing in France: City Branding Practices, Challenges and Trends

Marc Thébault, in charge of attractivity of the French city region of Caen La Mer, in this interview tells us about place branding and -marketing ("marketing territorial") in France. He also reflects on common challenges, trends and the success factors for city marketing.

Read about:

  • How freedom has become the unifying characteristic and brand concept for the Normandy region in France, and how it influences the brand positioning of the city region of Caen;
  • Five necessary conditions for successful place brands;
  • The characteristics of place marketing and branding in France;
  • 8 questions you need to answer for effective place marketing;
  • The most common mistakes by place marketers.

Marc, your new promotional campaign highlights the value of freedom to promote the Caen Agglomeration. Who do you have in mind when positioning Caen?

In a strong competitive environment with competing cities which are often presenting the same characteristics, figures or assets that we don’t have, we rely on our identity and our values to stand out and to be noticed.

The concept of "freedom" is very close to Caen and the Normandy region in which we are located:

  • It's a Norman trait: eager to respect the freedom of others, to preserve our own freedom of thought, mistrusting dogmas or radical answers.
  • The worldwide known historical event of D-Day, possible thanks to the sacrifice of an entire region to allow the reconquest in pursuit of peace, and therefore of freedom. Normandy's history is a global symbol of the price of freedom.
  • The concept also represents an open state of mind and an acceptance of different options and choices, which goes far beyond the cliché of the Norman hesitation. Rather than being pressured to choose one specific option, you are allowed to choose among many.
  • The concept of "freedom" can be applied to many fields: freedom to create, innovate, to choose your leisure activities, your way of life, to express your opinions, etc... It's thus a promise of tolerance, hope, of proliferation of new ideas and respect for the other. And it's only here, nowhere else.

You are known for involving local government politicians in your strategic communication work. How do you get them to collaborate with you, especially in connection with place marketing initiatives?

If you ask me to put trust in equations or receipts, it would be complicated. I am a believer in listening and convincing through work and results. Being humble and using evidence to back arguments. So, I'm more like a craftsman who likes a job well done, and who is willing to get his hands dirty, rather than acting as an untouchable expert without real contact to the people and place.

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The Editorial Team

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