Flash Marketing of City a Waste

ALAN WOOD     The Press

A focus by Christchurch's earthquake rebuild team on a campaign to attract investors to the city has drawn criticism from Ocean Partners, which says money should not be wasted on "flash advertising".

A focus by Christchurch's earthquake rebuild team on a campaign to attract investors to the city has drawn criticism from a boutique investment bank, which says money should not be wasted on "flash advertising".

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) is seeking international investment for the quake-damaged city, and has issued a tender document outlining the need for a group able to lead a complex marketing strategy.

However, the search for a marketing-based group with a budget of up to $750,000 has drawn criticism from Tim Howe, of Ocean Partners, who says the money will be wasted on glossy marketing.

Instead, Cera and its city subsidiary, the Christchurch Central Development Unit, should be working with known investors on incentives or partnership opportunities to bring them into the city rebuild, he said.

CCDU director Warwick Isaac has already been overseas talking to Australians as potential investors for the central city rebuild.

In May he and CCDU investment manager James Hay flew across the Tasman to talk to Australian banks, investors and advisers about the city's earthquake recovery projects.

Last week Cera issued a "request for proposal" or tender for a CCDU investor campaign, which said they needed a multi-faceted marketing strategy to enable CCDU to attract investment.

"The campaign will target national and international investors, funders, insurers and reinsurers and local, national and international businesses looking to set up or who are already operating in Christchurch," the proposal said.

"We also need to 'market' the central city to local residents as a place they will want to live, work, shop and play in."

The rebuild of wider Christchurch has been estimated as costing up to $30 billion, with Isaacs saying it is well recognised the necessary funds would have to come not only from insurance but central and local government and private investors.

Hay said on Friday that CCDU was calling for proposals from individual companies or a consortium to design and implement the marketing strategy to focus on investment.

He said that the campaign needed to attract interest from a range of investors and potential funders, both national and international, and be wide enough to garner interest from existing and new business.

Canterbury accounts for 15 per cent of gross domestic product and 10.5 per cent of the country's population.

Howe said Ocean Partners had in the past 15 months connected with international investors, institutions and sovereign funds, considering an investment in Christchurch.

There was no shortage of investors but the city's vision needed to stack up economically to attract capital.

The vision would partly be delivered through CCDU's blueprint for the city to be delivered on July 27, but other enticements should be offered, Howe said.

"Raising capital in some ways is something done by a small number of people and advisory firms ...

"We're not sure that any campaign by an advertising or associated firm is going to help bring those parties, already looking at this opportunity and waiting for substance, any closer to making a decision to invest."

Existing investors in the city that had received payouts for property damage, would need "some degree of certainty and transparency" before they reinvested capital in that same market rather than somewhere else.

"Those parties don't want a flash advertising campaign ... they just want to understand what is on offer in the city, what will incentivise them by way of either depreciation changes or tax changes or what incentives are going to be offered to them to introduce capital here."