Tourism slogan branded ‘pretty bleak’ by critics

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A COUNCIL boss has defended spending £40,000 on a tourism branding exercise which uses the slogan ‘pretty gritty’ to describe the district.

Calderdale Council paid the money to Cardiff-based ‘place branding’ consultants Heavenly which has come up with various logos and slogans that can be used by local businesses.

But critics have claimed that the slogan and some of the photographs being used in the marketing material are a bit “bleak” and hark back to the days of ‘dark Satanic mills’.

Those who have raised doubts about the branding have included BBC Radio Leeds presenter Liz Green, a resident of the Calder Valley.

She said some of the photos gave the impression that the area was “bleak” and she was not convinced they would encourage people to visit the area.

Others have claimed that the branding and use of the word ‘gritty’ paint a stereotypical picture of industrial West Yorkshire which is no longer relevant.

But council director Mark Thompson, head of housing and the environment, said businesses had an input during the branding exercise and had expressed their support.

He said it was not a council brand but one intended for use by businesses across Calderdale.

He said: “It’s for Calderdale as a place and is available for businesses to use as they wish. One or two businesses are already beginning to take it up.”

The logos, he said, came in a number of different styles and could be used to promote Calderdale or individual towns from Hebden Bridge to Brighouse.

The Hebden Bridge Blues Festival had used the logo and Brighouse climbing gym Rokt is looking to use it, he said.

He said the slogan ‘pretty gritty’ was “obviously attracting a lot of attention” from supporters and critics.

“We could have gone for something ‘vanilla’ and could have had a quiet life and that would have been the end of it.

“You have got to give these things a little bit of time. This is the first reaction and things can grow on you.”

Asked if he thought the photos of the landscape appeared “bleak”, he said he preferred to use the word “authentic”.

“I don’t think they do (look bleak). I think they look authentic. As someone has said, it does rain sometimes in Calderdale. Pictures showing just sunshine would not be true.”

Mr Thompson said that, in the long term, £40,000 was money well spent.

Roger Pride, managing partner at Heavenly, has previously commented on the slogan, saying ‘pretty gritty’ reflected the contrast in the area - the beauty of the hills and the tenacity of the people.

Halifax Labour MP Linda Riordan said she was not convinced by the slogan.