Why would an economic development agency create an ad you might see in a lifestyle magazine?
That’s the first question Ron Gaudet, CEO of Economic Development Greater Saint John (EDGSJ) is expecting people to ask, when they see the agency’s ad in Maritime Edit magazine’s summer edition.
“We chose to advertise in Maritime Edit precisely because it’s unexpected. The magazine has the kind of cachet that will amplify our message: Greater Saint John is a lot cooler than people might think,” says Gaudet. “With international distribution, plus a flare for celebrating the finest of what it’s like to live in our area, running our ad in [Edit] will help us start changing how people perceive our city and our region.”
This is the goal of the agency’s new ASK GSJ marketing campaign.
“People’s impressions of Greater Saint John are either outdated or non-existent,” says Gaudet. “We can’t stand by and wait for that situation to fix itself. We must intervene. We must plant a new impression in people’s minds.”
The campaign’s first advertisement features Jenna, General Manager of Irving Wallboard in Saint John.
“Jenna is a highly educated, highly capable person who could take her pick of work assignments – and she chooses to live and work here,” says Gaudet. “It’s attention-getters like her that we’ve selected to embody the wonderful things happening in Greater Saint John every day.”
Jenna’s role with Irving Wallboard represents Greater Saint John’s Logistics and Manufacturing sector – one of five industry sectors that are thriving in our region.
“Our key sectors are not just window dressing,” explains Gaudet. “Our city has clusters of industry that work exceptionally well here – Logistics and Manufacturing, Health Research, ICT and Cybersecurity, Energy, and Ocean. We have the infrastructure, the connections, the geography, and the co-location of operations required to create an environment supportive of these industries, which are the primary focus of our investment attraction efforts.”
A diverse group of Saint Johners was assembled to model for the campaign, with their respective jobs representing each of these key sectors.
“These people could work anywhere in the world, but they’ve chosen Greater Saint John as their home. This message carries weight, because it means our region offers something unique to its residents – something that is hard to find anywhere else,” says Gaudet.
Photographed in an editorial style, the subjects are found smartly-dressed in Saint John, Grand Bay-Westfield, Quispamsis, Rothesay and St. Martins locations.
“We want this first ad, and those that follow, to stop people in their tracks,” says Gaudet.
EDGSJ’s new campaign is taking a disruptively-simple approach to demonstrating Greater Saint John’s excellent combination of professional and personal appeal.
But Gaudet expects to be challenged on it.
“Some will ask: is a marketing campaign important? To that I say: yes. Period.”
“This campaign is an exercise in de-stabilization – catching people by surprise. We want people to look at these images of successful people in wonderful locations, be motivated to reach out and ask what it’s like to live and work in Greater Saint John today, and ultimately make the move to experience it for themselves.”
More than at any point in Saint John’s history, the success of the Greater Saint John economy is tied to global supply chains, investment flows and people migration. It is for these reasons that Greater Saint John must be known as an excellent place to live, work, start a business, invest, attend school, and visit.
“We need more people living and working in the Greater Saint John area,” says Gaudet. “Boosting the number of people attracted to or retained in Greater Saint John is critical to establishing a workforce that will support economic growth in the years ahead. We have to reach out to them and make the ask.”
“EDGSJ’s three-year strategic plan includes changing the Greater Saint John narrative by sharing authentic stories and examples, to develop a positive regional image,” explains Gaudet. “We’ll remind people of Greater Saint John’s attributes, and leverage the mix of our strong urban core and our natural assets.”
With a vision to support consistent, long-term economic growth for Saint John, Grand Bay-Westfield, Quispamsis, Rothesay, and St. Martins, EDGSJ’s organizational Mission is more jobs, more people, and a more attractive business environment.
“Our focused efforts in the areas of workforce development, entrepreneur development, and business investment & innovation will not achieve their full potential without also targeting local, regional, national and international perceptions of Saint John with effective and authentic marketing activities,” explains Gaudet.
“A silver bullet solution to Greater Saint John’s economic reality does not exist. What does exist is a community of collaborative partners who want to drive positive change for our region,” says Gaudet. “The ASK GSJ campaign is a tangible example of all of us taking a step in the right direction.”
Visit the Marketing Greater Saint John section of the EDGSJ web page to see more from the ASK GSJ campaign throughout the summer.
The story was sponsored by EDGSJ.