Cork’s city councillors were not consulted on the cost of the We Are Cork brand campaign, it has emerged, following criticism of spending on the marketing push.
On Saturday, therevealed that the We Are Cork branding exercise and an economic marketing strategy for the region cost €290,305.10.
The majority of the cost has been borne by Cork’s city and county councils. The net cost to Cork City Council is €139,407.34, while Cork County Council will contribute €115,897.78. The figures were released to this newspaper via the Freedom of Information Act.
Labour local area representative, Peter Horgan, also submitted a Freedom of Information request to the city council on the spending and other aspects of the campaign, and City Hall revealed that no meetings were held with councillors to discuss the design cost of the We Are Cork brand.
Mr Horgan said: “Elected councillors are the guardians of the city’s operations on behalf of the people. It is clear that councillors have been circumnavigated on this issue — public monies being spent regardless of reserved or executive functions.
It is simply wrong to ignore the views of council, and by extension the people of Cork, by not seeking out those views in the first place. We have housing issues, transport requirements, and crumbling roads to name just three service areas where that money would have been better spent. I understand the We Are Cork brand hasn’t even been pushed outside of the city and county. We effectively spent €300,000 to tell Cork people they’re from Cork.
Fianna Fáil city councillor, Ken O’Flynn, said he recently created “a new corporate logo and a suite of stationery and social media accounts and graphics for €500”.
“I think it is imperative that the chief executive, Ann Doherty, would explain where exactly all this money has gone and who has received it. People and especially business people are furious that such a brand could cost this amount when everyone knows that all such branding can be produced at a fraction of this cost,” he said.
Yesterday, Lord Mayor Mick Finn said: “At first glance, the expenditure does seem high but an educated and informed drill-down into the itemised spending on the We Are Cork place branding — something that has been sought by the two councils and a wide extent of partners across Cork — reveals the full extent of the marketing and branding of Cork across the world to attract investment, new multi-nationals, students and tourists.
Both the city and county council are the main funders, but there is also buy-in from the third level sector, Cork Chamber and CBA, IBEC and Port of Cork. Promotion of Cork as a single brand around the world stands to reap huge benefits and when you consider all the players who will contribute to the overall cost, I think it’s great that Cork is stepping up to the plate and being ambitious.
“We often bemoan the fact that Dublin gets everything: this is Cork moving up a gear. I realise sceptics may think differently but I would suggest to some commentators that the value for money aspect of funds given to political parties at various elections, amounting to considerably more than what is involved here for the promotion of Cork, should be the first port of call for evaluation rather than the strategic development of Cork as a global city.”