Hastings promotional brand 'weak as dishwater'

By Lawrence Gullery

Hastings' current self-promotional brand has been described as "weak as dishwater" and the district should revert to being called the "Fruitbowl of New Zealand".

The debate over what the district's brand should be was revived at the Hastings District Council's development committee meeting yesterday where councillor Kevin Watkins questioned the council's new marketing strategy.

"Hastings is still considered the Fruitbowl of New Zealand but it hardly gets a mention in here (strategy)," Cr Watkins said.

"In 2010, councillors decided on (the brand) Hastings, The Heart of Hawke's Bay, but you say here in the strategy: the current identity does not explicitly establish a unique positioning for Hastings but operates at a more subtle and implicit level."

The strategy described the brand as "relatively neutral" but slotted into the council's communication activity and supported tourism and other messages.

"I was the only one in 2010 who voted against the new brand and to me it's as weak as dishwater. We are the Fruitbowl of New Zealand which crosses over into so many different areas and I think it should get a mention."

The council's chief executive Ross McLeod said the "Heart of Hawke's Bay" brand focussed on everything Hastings had to offer rather than just singling out its agricultural and horticultural strengths.

The new marketing strategy was written by the council's marketing and communications manager Tim Carthew who said the document asked council to focus on "doing things rather than saying things".

"You could revisit the branding again and spend a lot of time and money. And yes we may be able to come up with something better but is that the best use of resources when the focus needs to be on doing things that people can engage with?"

Deputy mayor Cynthia Bowers liked the current brand but understood Cr Watkins' concerns.

"This year we are going to find some funding through community grants to theme the annual Blossom Festival as, Hastings, The Fruitbowl of New Zealand. That is going to be the theme for the festival going forward, based on nostalgia and our history."

Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said he did not support any change to the current brand. " ... I think we are the food production centre of New Zealand anyway, we are already in that space."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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