Xavier Theret, Head of International Promotion and Relations at Le Voyage à Nantes, in this interview illustrates how the internationally little known French city of Nantes has managed to build itself a name and reputation of being creative and innovative.
Xavier, do you remember the first time you heard about place branding and territorial marketing? What triggered your interest in the topic?
The first time I heard about territorial marketing was in the late 90s as a student in Strasbourg. There was little literature on it, so I decided to write my master’s thesis on territorial marketing. I started to interview some specialists and to look for a few success stories. Some development agencies - like the IDA Ireland - were among them. Initiatives like the tourism promotion of Christmas markets in Alsace were also great examples to look at.
As Head of International Promotion and Relations at Le Voyage à Nantes, in your view, what does “Brand Nantes” stand for?
Nantes has never really been a brand – the city remains quite unknown to most people beyond France, even though things have largely improved over the last few years.
With an increasing number of cultural initiatives set up since the 90s by Jean Blaise, the development of specific projects such as Les Machines de l’île in the place of the former shipyards (2007), the Estuaire art collection along the estuary of the river Loire (2007), the yearly summer event Le Voyage à Nantes that started in 2012…. Nantes has gained a reputation of being a creative and innovative city.
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