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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day

Learning and Beliefs

Glasgow's Miles Better

By Michael Kelly

Glasgow's Miles Better "Glasgow's Miles Better" – a tagline that has entered the language – was the slogan of a campaign devised with the specific purpose of changing the city's reputation as a dark, dangerous and dismal conglomeration of slum housing, religious bigotry and urban decay.

Harold Wilson in Glasgow However unjustified, that was how the city was perceived until the 1980s. Its sullied image had significant adverse economic effects on Glasgow. As Lord Provost I was to spearhead the fight for jobs and inward investment. But, it was an impossible task, with adverse perceptions firmly fixed abroad.

Whitehill Swimming Pool A visit to New York opened my eyes to the fact that cities with appalling urban problems could promote themselves successfully. I adapted its "I Love New York" campaign idea for Glasgow.

Not everybody went along with my plans to market the city in such an overtly commercial way. Many councillors objected to spending money on "advertising" when so many roofs needed repair. Indeed, it was not until I had secured the initial funding from the city's private sector that the council coughed up its share.

The campaign worked. External perceptions were changed and Glasgow now has a visitor industry worth millions of pounds and thousands of jobs. But an equally important, unpredicted side effect was the impact that the campaign had on Glaswegians themselves. The slogan gave them the opportunity to articulate the pride they felt in their city. By adopting it wholeheartedly they not only helped the campaign succeed, but created the necessary buzz and can-do attitude that were essential ingredients for the city's revival.

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