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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce Exports Jobs To Germany: Dusseldorf Firm Lands 'Branding' Deal to Help Shape City's 21st Century Image

Dusseldorf Firm Hired By Cincy Chamber
CINCINNATI (TDB) -- The Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce -- apparently with little public notice or discussion -- has employed a German company in its quest to secure a brighter role on the global economic stage.  This action comes amid concern in the U.S. and Ohio about jobs being offshored and outsourced to foreign businesses when American workers are facing crushing unemployment rates.  The chamber, a non-profit, receives state and city funding.  mE Brand Communication of Dusseldorf, a firm that builds and develops brands, says its client roster includes the Ohio city's chamber.  The Daily Bellwether found info on the German company's website that highlights its creation of a mobile phone app for the chamber:
"brand newNews from our international network – the IPREX Show Reel. Please have a lookThe Cincinnati Chamber enables prospects to approach early stage relocation plans by a mobile platform - with an app created by m/e.
New client, new challenges: m/e leads branding and communication of Clean Mobile, a manufacturer of electrical drives for bikes.
m/e develops a brand positioning for Altro, a specialist in floorings and wall claddings, followed by a range of communications measures.
More service, available anywhere at anytime: m/e has developed iPhone and iPad apps for lab and analytical instrumentation specialist Shimadzu."

There is more showing the chamber has offshored work.  Its 2009 tax return discloses that mE Brand Communication GMBH was paid $119,233 that year for "professional services."
  The German company was one of four outside contractors that received more than $100,000 from the Cincinnati Chamber; the other three were local.  Meanwhile, the chamber has been busy touting this region as a marketing hub that includes worldclass expertise in branding.  There is supposed to be plenty of homegrown talent here on the banks of the Ohio River.  Ohio's economic development department has given the chamber $250,000 to promote Cincinnati as a branding capital.  In fact, the Chamber says one purpose of the effort is to "brand the city globally as the leading center for consumer insight, intelligence, innovation and marketing expertise, including coining a brand name and creating supporting materials."  Apparently, it takes help from Europe for Cincinnati to leverage its reputation as a "leading center."   Here's what the chamber has to say about the Ohio Department of Development's grant:

What does this mean? The Hub designation, which comes with a $250,000 grant, allows Cincinnati USA to leverage its considerable assets in consumer marketing. It will further strengthen the existing industry cluster, enable attraction and creation of new businesses, attract and retain creative and highly-skilled talent, build our international reputation as the leading center for consumer marketing, and drive economic growth.
Brand the city globally as the leading center for consumer insight, intelligence, innovation and marketing expertise, including coining a brand name and creating supporting materials. 

With about 590,000 residents, Dusseldorf is the center of Germany's advertising and fashion industries, along with more than a dozen internet service providers.  Wikipedia has good information about Dusseldorf's economy.  Like Cincinnati, it is a river city and it has a large Japanese contingent.  Many Japanese firms have their European offices in Dusseldorf.  Metro Cincinnati is home to Toyota's North American headquarters -- so maybe there is a belief in the economic development community that Cincinnati can somehow try to duplicate Dusseldorf's evolution from heavy manufacturing to a center of advertising, marketing and internet businesses.


  1. This "marketing hub" designation came in mid-2010 and was a brainchild of Ted Strickland, whose Ohio DOD appears not to have put any U.S. sourcing requirements into its grant.

    Perhaps inadvertently, you made this look as if it was a Kasich-driven initiative.

    If you really want a story, figure out why the German firm got the work. I wouldn't rule out the possibility of a bit of Euro-cronyism originating at a certain very large consumer products maker.

    Tom Blumer

  2. Interesting comment. Euro-cronyism. Good phrase. Brand phrase before taken. German company paid in American dollars. Somebody in U.S., in Cincy could do branding job. Kasich no hands in this.

  3. Chamber is supposed to encourage local business. Member firms in branding/marketing could have used that contract when econ is tanked. Out of touch and out of their minds at the Chamber.

  4. We'll send you euros. You send us dollars. The buck stops here.