When Advantage West Midlands granted £25,000 to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to improve the image of Cheadle (The Sentinel), the most obvious first move was to hire in expensive marketing and tourism experts, Juice Marketing, to consult on the town’s new image. But now the publicity materials are out the council and its consultants are being accused of blundering, overlooking the town’s attractions and giving downright misinformation.
Staffordshire Moorlands District Council matched the AWM funding for this project which aims to give a ‘better welcome’ to visitors to the area, and though better it may be, accurate it certainly is not.
In these new glossy brochures, the town of Cheadle is described as residing in a "beautiful countryside setting in the rolling Staffordshire Peak District”. Very appealing you might think? These marketing experts clearly thought the same, and were pretty confident that by mentioning the Peak District they would draw in the crowds, and though that may be true there’s just one small problem – Cheadle isn’t in the Peak District, it’s in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
Rather than the blithering mistake this appears to be, there’s some suggestion that it’s a deliberate deception, used to tempt people to the town under false pretences. During their consulting period, these marketing gurus discovered that the Cheadle’s current main attraction – a church designed by Pugin, the architect behind the interior of the Palace of Westminster – just didn’t have the same pulling power and so they resolved to find another ‘hook’, and the Peak District was it – even if the area has little to do with Cheadle.
Obviously, the people of the town are less than amused that the Moorlands were apparently considered to dull and drab to excite potential tourists.
Former deputy council leader, Linda Malyon said: "It is an insult. We are in the Moorlands and we are proud of it. It is absolutely disgusting. How much have these consultants been paid to come up with this? It is shambolic."
Amongst the plethora of trendy buzzwords and assorted jabber on their loud and barely penetrable website, Juice Marketing proudly claim: The key is to first capture a destination's unique ‘sense of place’, and if ‘unique’ means fictitious then this company were right on the money…
It seems that council chiefs in the area just let themselves get carried away with big talk and marketing razzle-dazzle and forgot the point of the whole exercise. In the meantime £50k of taxpayers' money - money that was supposed to be used to attract tourism into the town - has instead caused conflict, embarrassment and, potentially in the long term, quite some damage to the town as a place to visit.