Have you heard about the “waw” effect?

Originally posted by EURE Project (INTERREG EUROPE) in April 2020

“For years, cities around the world have joined the search for a particular identity to differentiate themselves, juggling between marketing and branding. In 2012, Bill Baker established a fundamental difference between them: “Branding is based on long-term strategy, while marketing is strategic (or should be), but aims for the short term. It is no longer a matter of captivating tourists only, but of facilitating the citizen’s relationship with the city at the same time as attracting talent, investment and the installation of businesses.

The Saffron City Brand Barometer measures the brand of European Cities. It defines ten criteria and, among them, the “Ooh, I could live here!” principle (also known as Barcelona effect). As defined by its author, Jeremy Hildreth, it is “an unnameable factor”. It is about emotion, a positive version of the Stendhal syndrome. An unexpected but sincere “waw” when you discover a city.
In eleven years travelling, visiting and working for the Atlantic Cities, I have experienced it many times. However, it is rare to see it in groups of people, as we, as humans, are all different!
In Brest, I noticed a collective “waw” twice.

First time was in the CIVITAS Forum Conference in 2013. In one of the workshops, Brest Metropole was explaining its “4P” urban strategy, how they built a coordinated plan gathering actions for climate change, housing, transport and waste.

After the first couple of power point slides, the room was in awe.

The “waw” effect!

Second time, my colleagues could witness this collective “waw” in November 2019. Our network organised in Brest the first study visit of the EURE project, financed by INTERREG Europe. The strategy was presented first hand by Brest Metropole’s vice-president, Frederique Bonnard Le-Floch. Visits included the Technopole and its Ocean Campus, the port of Brest, the renovated quarter of Capucins and the cableway, the Energy agency, the biomass plant, …

Verdict of the nine project partners was unanimous.


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