Calgary Leverages Mayor to Tell Broader Story and Improve Perceptions

June 30, 2015

Calgary. Be Part of the Energy” is a fully integrated marketing campaign that is improving perceptions and sharing the breadth and depth of how Calgary is a cosmopolitan Canadian city that is not only a great place for making a living, but a great place to make a life.

The campaign was designed in 2011 after extensive research to attract qualified workers to the city to fill a labor shortage created by continued economic growth.

It takes a unique approach to telling Calgary’s story, and the campaign continues to evolve and stay current.
To learn more, DCI spoke with Mary Moran, CEO of Calgary Economic Development, and Lisa Corcoran, acting vice president for marketing, communications and research for Calgary Economic Development, who is also one of DCI’s 40 Under 40 Winners.

Date Launched: Spring of 2011

Budget: Varies; and ranges between $400,000 and $1 million annually

What DCI loves about the campaign:

Calgarians join forces to promote family name

The various organizations in Calgary see each other as part of one big family, with the goal of promoting “Calgary” as their family name. That is why Calgary Economic Development, Tourism Calgary and the Convention Centre partnered to leverage this campaign to the best of their ability. The collaborative approach has better aligned all of the organizations, and creates one strong, unified voice. Rather than each entity creating their own video, for example, they created a video called “Right Here,” which tells the “Be Part of the Energy” key messages and can be used to target labor attraction, visitor attraction, meeting attraction, as well as serve business objectives out of market. Additionally, Calgary has done an excellent job of getting key corporate partners on board. The campaign is funded through the private sector, and in the first eight weeks before the campaign launched, Calgary secured $800,000 in funding.



Recruiting Calgary Mayor Nenshi as the campaign’s pillar spokesperson

From the start of the campaign, Calgary has used Mayor Naheed Nenshi and his charismatic personality to help tell the broader story. Not only did he lead pep rallies and have a donut named after him, but Mayor Nenshi has taken the story on the road, including doing one tour that included three days, four major cities and six events that led to more than $1 million in earned media results. Calgary Economic Development estimates that Mayor Nenshi helps them get at least four to five times they value they typically would through paid media. Perception research that Calgary has conducted indicates that the campaign is working, too, with 37 percent of folks stating that impressions of Calgary have improved.


Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi


Making a big splash with innovative ideas

Not only is Calgary Mayor Nenshi the pillar of the campaign, but Calgary has repeatedly created unique and innovative gimmicks to draw attention. At the campaign launch, for example, Calgary worked with a local donut company to launch the “Nenshi donut.” That came in addition to the Mayor hosting a pep rally that included a musical artist who created a rap song called “We are not all cowboys” – which had everyone feeling the energy, literally dancing in the streets.

When Calgary held a social media contest to win a West Jet flight, Mayor Nenshi was on a flight – not as a passenger, but as a flight attendant. Calgary also partnered with a local publication to create a 100-page coffee table-style magazine called “Life in Calgary” which includes advertising and ample content about Calgary.




Expanding the brand by launching a local Calgary badge program

Calgary recently created and launched a local badging brand to allow businesses to show they are “part of the energy” by displaying the brand on their doors, in their offices or in communications material. Think window decals, buttons for staff members to wear, or marketing collateral material. Calgary’s “Be Part of the Energy” website includes details, guidelines and downloads for the primary “Calgary. Be Part of the Energy” wordmark and expanded taglines. It also includes the city’s “heritage wordmark,” including Calgary’s signature white hat, which reflects the city’s western heritage and hospitality.



Sarah Reinecke

Written by Sarah Reinecke

Sarah Reinecke is a Senior Account Executive at DCI. Since joining the staff in 2013, she’s worked to tell the economic development stories of places that span from Salinas, Calif., to Wake County, N.C., and Calgary, Alberta, Canada, to the state of Indiana.

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