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Integrated Marketing Campaign

Berwyn, Cook County

Policy and Governance

Policy background

In 2007, the City of Berwyn partnered with the Berwyn Development Corporation (BDC) and began a marketing campaign to highlight the City’s unique assets and distinguish it from its neighbors. Recently completing its 10th year, the marketing campaign has been incredibly successful in attracting new residents and businesses, and changing public perception of what a small suburb so close to one of the country’s largest cities can provide in terms of amenities and lifestyle opportunities. The marketing campaign has allowed the City to tap into a growing number of households that are looking for more affordable housing options without sacrificing access to public transportation resources, cultural diversity and thriving downtowns typically associated with larger urban centers.

How it works

The BDC is a public-private partnership with the City of Berwyn. As a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit membership organization, the BDC functions similarly to a chamber of commerce, providing economic development support to the City while also working to develop new programs and services to strengthen Berwyn’s businesses and the larger community. The marketing campaign currently falls under the guidance of a steering committee comprised of BDC staff and board members, a representative from the City and community residents. A design studio is engaged to develop messaging and collateral and to test the campaign with its targeted audience. The steering committee provides feedback and oversight to that process and meets with Berwyn’s City Council each year to discuss budgetary issues and present their proposal for approval.

The most identifiable aspect of the campaign has been its attractive, eye-catching billboards. All of the campaign’s outdoor advertising is done within the City of Chicago. BDC staff determines the location of billboards, which focus on specific zip codes that experience high traffic. Berwyn has had particular success with attracting the LGBTQ population, and now ranks #3 for total number of same-sex couples in Cook County outside of Chicago. The BDC attributes this to a number of efforts the City has made to provide a welcoming and inclusive environment to people in the LGBTQ community. Aside from advertising in Lakeview and Andersonville, two LGBTQ-friendly neighborhoods in Chicago, Berwyn sends community representatives to participate in the annual Pride Parade and Northalsted Market Days. In 2008, the Berwyn City Council unanimously decided to add “sexual orientation” to the language in its human rights ordinance that protects against discrimination. Four years later, the City of Berwyn passed a resolution supporting equal access to housing regardless of “sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Public involvement

In 2014, the BDC decided to embark on a public engagement process to evaluate the first generation of the campaign and generate new ideas for moving forward. Interviews, surveys and focus groups were conducted in Chicago and Berwyn in order to gain an understanding of people’s experienced and assumed impressions of Berwyn and the campaign. Residents and businesses in Berwyn were asked to reflect on who they were as a community, and Chicagoans were asked questions to help identify the lifestyle qualities that they seek from their community. The results were used to inspire the campaign’s direction. The second generation of the campaign was launched in 2015 with the help of Firebelly Design.

  • Goal

    Build brand awareness around the City of Berwyn as a great community to live, work and play

  • Target

    Families, working professionals and first-time homebuyers

  • Financing

    Campaign costs are approximately $80,000/year

  • Successes

    • 71 percent increase in Berwyn’s annual residential investment to nearly $25 million (2007–2016)
    • 47 percent increase in Berwyn’s annual sales tax volume to more than $30 million (2007–2016)
    • 75 percent of Chicagoans and Berwynners who participated in an independent study remembered the new ads affiliated with the “Nothing Like a Suburb” campaign.

  • Lessons Learned

    • Need to understand demographics and to whom your advertising is targeted.
    • Be honest about what your community has, where your community is going and what your community wants to be.