Place marketing, of which city marketing is by far the most significant component, has generated a massive literature. Between 1990 and 1994, five major books were published (Ashworth and Voogd 1990; Kearns and Philo 1993; Kotler et al. 1993; Gold and Ward 1994; Smyth 1994) containing 242, 560, 248, 633 and 164 references, respectively. Recently, a selective bibliography of city marketing literature consisting of over 280 references was issued (Millington et al. 1997). Most of this literature is also very recent. Students of citation will not be surprised to learn that a substantial proportion of this literature is mutually reinforcing but, while city marketing cannot claim to be a discipline in its own right, it is an area of study within which distinctive ‘schools’ have emerged. In broad terms, the literature divides into three relatively separate groups.
The first category consists of work whose origin lies primarily either in the practice of marketing or in marketing theory. Although place marketing has a host of historical antecedents (Glaab 1967; Jarvis 1994; Ward 1988; 1990; 1994; Zube and Galante 1994) and specific cities have a long history of boosterism, for example Atlanta (Rutheiser 1996) and Syracuse, New York state (Roberts and Schein 1993; Short et al. 1993), the application of marketing techniques to cities and other locations stems particularly from two contemporaneous trends in the late 1960s and 1970s. One concerned the development of new marketing approaches, specifically concerned with non-business or non-profit organisations; what came to be known as ‘social’ marketing (Kotler and Levy 1969; Kotler and Zaltman 1971). The second trend was the onset of an ‘urban crisis’, which had many manifestations but which was widely perceived at the time as leading to the potential terminal decline of traditional urban economies, with a consequent imperative for economic restructuring (Massey 1984; Lever 1987; Fretter 1993; Holcomb 1993). The latter stimulated the search for new roles for cities and new ways of managing their problems. Initially, this took the form of simple ‘promotion’ of the city and its attractions but gradually, in some areas, this has evolved into more sophisticated marketing exercises. Whereas ‘promotion’ is related merely to the idea of trying to sell something, marketing is concerned with finding out what it is that potential consumers wish to buy. Much of the early literature on place marketing was concerned with the USA (Lewis 1978) and the apparently spectacular ‘turn-arounds’ in economic fortunes experienced by cities such as Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cleveland (Holcomb 1993). Such successes prompted investigations of the ‘ways and means’ by which decline could be reversed (Guskind 1987; Bailey 1989). Similar ideas were rapidly taken up in European cities (Korn et al. 1994), most notably in the Netherlands (Ashworth and Voogd 1988) and, although sporadically at first, also in Britain (Clarke 1986; Wilkinson 1992). Although they are rather different in tone, the epitome of this ‘technical’ literature on how to achieve best practice in city marketing is found in two of the volumes cited earlier, Kotler et al. (1993) and