Real and raw place brand storytelling evokes a city’s pride


An honest portrayal of a city’s grim and glory.

Place branding is all about capturing the spirit and feel of a country, city or region in a way that alights the vivacity, tranquility, culture, vibrancy and lifestyle of that place in our eyes. The best place branding campaign sparks emotion for the viewer, the longing to go there, experience the smells, the laughter, the history, the pain, or the pure atmosphere of a place.

Typical place branding videos ignite the senses. The viewers mind wanders off, meandering through the romantic coastlines and laneways, diving headfirst into a pool of music and culture, laughing and dancing, eating and drinking… life’s amazing! They urge you to pack your bags and book that flight and escape from the mundane commute of your city dwelling and daily grind. Beautiful cinematography, a powerful soundtrack, you can almost smell the saltwater and taste the food! I’m starving!

But they’ve come to be expected.

Dublin You Are

What really grabbed my attention was a brand film from my home town, Dublin, which served as the city’s bid video for the accolade of Europe’s Culture Capital developed by the council and various artists / agencies in 2015. Alas the city was shortlisted but didn’t make it into the final round. That’s ok though because the five minute video is one of the most beautifully crafted, real, politically antagonising and emotive interpretation of a place that I’ve seen. ‘Dublin You Are’, brings to life a captivating, poetic, down and dirty real representation of the city. Written by poet, Stephen James Smith the poem celebrates everything about the city, the good and the bad, in a way that unites Dubliners to stand up and be proud of their city, acknowledge what social, economic and political problems that we have but also celebrate what’s so great about the city, igniting pride, which is something that Dubliners have inherently engrained in them.


Unashamedly truthful, the poem addresses Dublin itself, in a way that makes viewers think they are Dublin. It talks of John Corrie, a homeless man who died  during a freezing winter’s night at the doorway to the government buildings in 2015, causing outcry among the public for the government to tackle homelessness. The narrative simple asks the city “Are you even sorry?” It pokes fun at pop stars Jedward, who we all cringe about helping rise to fame. It takes the piss out of Coddle, a Dublin, eh delicacy from the rare auld times, admitting it’s horrible.

The poem is a lyrical representation of community, of divide, of good and bad, it criticises the city’s homeless epidemic, gangland crime, the 1916 Easter Rising, the IRA and racism while also showcasing poets, musicians, actors, business leaders, the Marriage Equality referendum, the romantic scenery that has put our country on the world map. For me this video is far greater than a beautiful scenic, romantic place brand film. The narrative speaks to the viewer, as if they are the city, features real life portraits, and the everyday, questions their actions, asks what are you gonna do about it, and brings back real happy memories. This is a film about Dublin, for Dubliners, but a really nice glimpse into life in our old city.

For me it’s the perfect place branding film.

Here’s the poem. Let us know what you think and if you need anything translated!

Dublin you are grey brick upon brick,
full of tarmac and hipster pricks?
Just face it all other places Pale in comparison,
you are more than some former Saxon garrison.
Dublin your warmth came too late for John Corrie.
Dublin are you even sorry?
Dublin you are divided by more than the Liffey,
You said YES to equality
and it’s about Blooming time.
Yet Dublin you always Proclaimed to cherish all!
Dublin your Panties are on Capel Street
compromising any Papal feats.
Dublin Jedward, awkward…
Dublin you are more than a settlement on the Poddle,
But Dublin what’s the craic with coddle?
It’s shite, why don’t we just admit it!
Dublin you brought back Sam again, but
Dublin when did you go from,
the clash of the ash, to exchanging gold for cash?
Dublin, Dyflin, Eblana, Baile Átha Cliath,
and 180 other tongues your citizens are using to name ya…
So céad míle fáilte to all.
Dublin where power is held by too few in the Dáil.
Dublin when will you revolt again?
1988 wasn’t your true millennium
despite the 50ps & milk bottles.
Dublin you’re mine, but I’m happy to share you.
Dublin from RTE, TCD, UCD, U2, SIPTU, IFSC
and acrimonious Temple Bar STDs, ODs & OMGs!
No longer the 2nd city, yet you play 2nd fiddle
to Google & Guinness,
to Facebook and unsociable twits.
Dublin look at yourself.
Dublin your tower blocks & tenements
are an excuse for a solution.
Dublin c’mere till I tell ya
you can be more than,
rapid dirtbirds & banjaxed bowsies,
alrigh’ story bud & yeah sure it’s all good,
jaysis that’s scaldy,
Why Go Baldy,
I’m excira & delira,
Dublin I cry for ya!
Dublin you’re a tough bastard,
yet full of the softness of all of the people on your streets.
Margaret Dunne dancing on O’Connell Street,
The Diceman Tom McGinty miming on Grafton Street,
Pat Ingoldsby with his poems on Westmoreland Street,
and your Mollys, Malone, Ivers & Bloom.
To Daily-Sally-Sandy-Mounts…
From the gospel of Kelly, Drew, McKenna, & Sheahan,
to Borstal Boys like Brendan Behan
Two Gallants reJoycing, and Eveline looking out to sea.
Snow falling slowly on The Dead in Glasnevin
Glen & Marketa Once strolling,
to Christy Brown willfully controlling a foot
to paint pictures & poems,
to your heroines.
Brenda Fricker the city’s mother,
Maureen O’Hara an enchanting other.
Dublin you are boom & bust,
running Wilde & Swift
Dublin can I trust you?
Dublin your true blue is Harry Clark’s cobalt
Dublin from a Thin Lizzy, Dicey Reilly,
to a fluzzy in a jacuzzi God fearin’,
Dublin shooting down Veronica Guerin.
Dublin you are Bang-Bang, 40 coats,
Zozimus a blind street poet,
Dublin you are all of us,
and all who are yet to come,
so let’s go to the Gravediggers and have a pint.
Dublin remember Stardust and all your waltzing lovers.
Dublin Big Jim’s arms are outstretched to a Risen People,
yet are we under the thumb again?
Dublin your GPO columns are scarred from The Crackle of gunshots.
Dublin your CCTV will never yield your essence like the shots
of Arthur Fields Man on Bridge.
You are the Poolbeg Towers,
and the poor shower
begging on Bachelor’s Walk.
Dublin you’re all talk, yet you have my attention,
from Robbie Keane to Paula Meehan.
Dublin’s Calling, ohh ahh Paul McGrath, while some say Up The RA
Dublin bridging caps with Joyce & Beckett
and finally to Rosie Hackett!
Dublin Paddy Finnegan was forced to sell
The Big Issue on your streets,
while Daffodil Mulligan was played to bodhrán beats.
Dublin you say delish,
Dublin you are full of Polish
and Brazilians speaking Portuguese,
and now the Chinese
have turned Parnell Street into Chinatown,
Dublin don’t let them down.
Dublin don’t forget “no blacks, no dogs, no Irish”,
Dublin perish the thought of you being racist.
Dublin Cú Chulainn has fled the GPO, and heading for Monto.
Dublin your bay embraces despite the Sellafield Sea,
and your mountains frame all your natural beauty,
Dublin a wailing banshee stricken with T.B.
Dublin you’re European, but could be Craggy Island in disguise?
Gabriel Conroy is heading west because of an epiphany.
Just sayin’ Dublin you only painted your post boxes green!
Is The Abbey doing all you’d dreamed?
Dublin you are Notorious for clampers, Senators & seagulls,
to Celtic Tiger & septic tanks
to singing Highkings & rampaging Vikings.
Dublin come here,
take me for a Teddy’s and a romantic stroll down the pier…
Dublin you are
a dancing place, a sprawling space
of villages and many faces on the edge
of an island that’s eroded by the Atlantic,
battling with being romanticized,
Dublin are you dynamic?
Struggling with identity?
Changing for the better?
Changing for us?
Dublin don’t be scared
to change.
Don’t be
with you.
My friend.
My home.
50 times
in this poem.
We live in you,
My city,
Mo chroí­,
I love you,
Most of the time,
You see!
Dublin You Are,

Gemma Tedford
Director of Brand Projects

Pics courtesy of Dublin2020

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