City Branding and Citizen Involvement

Rikke Abildgaard & Mie Louens Hirsch Sørensen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world - with the tourism in Denmark being no exception (VisitDenmark, 2017a). Accordingly, Wonderful Copenhagen, the official tourism organization for The Capital Region of Denmark, launched the strategy ‘Localhood’ in 2017. In ‘Localhood’ the citizens become an important asset in delivering local and authentic experiences, which some tourists increasingly are demanding. Hence, a crucial part of ‘Localhood’ is to enhance the interaction between citizens and tourists in Copenhagen. The aim of this thesis is therefore to investigate how Wonderful Copenhagen strive to involve the citizens of Copenhagen in their city branding activities, while handling the strategic challenges this entail. We uncover this through a semi-structured interview with Wonderful Copenhagen, 16 semi-structured interviews and 485 standardized interviews with 20-39 years old citizens in Copenhagen. In addition, four semi-structured interviews with experts within the tourism industry were held to extend our knowledge about tourism in Copenhagen. The thesis applies a theoretical framework encompassed by city branding, the service-dominant logic of marketing, co-creation, and participatory branding. Our findings discovered that Wonderful Copenhagen have the right theoretical mindset according to participatory branding but in practice they lack a bottom-up approach to city branding. Furthermore, the analysis reveals that the citizens have positive attitudes towards the tourism in Copenhagen. Despite the positive attitudes, interaction with tourists is limited and the citizens have no further interests in increased interaction with tourists in Copenhagen. However, some citizens suggested that they might be open for more interaction with tourists if the interaction takes place under natural circumstances. Consequently, it is emphasized that a bottom-up approach that involves the citizens is crucial for the success of ‘Localhood’. Additionally, Wonderful Copenhagen should implement a dialogical approach to co-creation to obtain knowledge about the needs and wants of the citizens. Simultaneously, Wonderful Copenhagen should cede power to citizens in order to affect some of them to become brand ambassadors for Copenhagen. Failing to involve the citizens while tourism increases in Copenhagen, might result in citizens co-destructing the brand of Copenhagen as seen in other European capitals. Beyond this, the citizens emphasize that Wonderful Copenhagen should not force any further interaction with them and the tourists. Therefore, we argue that Wonderful Copenhagen implicitly should focus on natural circumstances in local areas in which an interaction can occur. Following this, we suggest that Wonderful Copenhagen should inform and promote local and authentic attractions to tourists. In this way, Wonderful Copenhagen can manage to increase the interaction between citizens and tourists without forcing the citizens of Copenhagen to interact more with tourists.

EducationsMSc in Organisational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2018
Number of pages327