Downtown Investment Campaign

A Small City in Transition

With a population of 70,000, Prince George is the largest city in Northern BC. In recent years, a slowing local forestry industry has caused the city to become more service-focused. During this transition, large box stores (such as WalMart and Home Depot) established on the city's perimeter started to effectively divert retail traffic, creating an empty and dilapidated city core. Alongside an urban planning team, smashLAB was brought in to produce a comprehensive marketing strategy to start encouraging new investment in the downtown.more

Going Narrow and Accepting Harsh Truths

Our partner team (an urban planning consultancy) first determined that our outreach strategy should be narrowly targeted to select property developers. With this audience in mind, we soon realized that we had to embrace the truth about the current state of the downtown core.

It isn't easy to present such notions to a group that feels passionately about an area: however, it uncovered equally positive truths about the deep desire felt by the residents for increased amenities and investment value.

Being Bold is Better than Being Bland

Instead of creating a polished and rosy marketing package, we concentrated on telling the story in a factual, "no nonsense" fashion. We documented the actual state of the area, asked residents to share their real likes and dislikes, and replaced marketing lingo with statistical data. Upon presenting the finished assets, one of the individuals involved, who had been most critical of the process (an owner of a property management group) pulled us aside, smiled, and said "this... this I can use to sell downtown."


Breathing life into an area that has largely been ignored for some time doesn’t happen overnight. It’s filled with hard battles and many years of struggle. It can, however, be helped by laying some practical and well considered groundwork—like you see here in the promotional package for Downtown Prince George.

Our approach was focused on reaching out to potential investors who would see the promise of the area, and the undervalued nature of downtown property. This all started with a package to be mailed out to select individuals, and made available at trade shows. Pictured here: the presentation folder, informational booklet, and business cards for the campaign.

To stand apart from other communities, the visual approach was stripped down, and void of any superfluous color and ornamentation. Instead, bold and straightforward statements prompted recipients to investigate further. Pictured: the presentation folder exterior and the front of the informational booklet.

Downtown Investment Campaign booklet
Downtown Investment Campaign booklet
Downtown Investment Campaign booklet
Downtown Investment Campaign booklet

Page spreads throughout the booklet worked to give a quick sense for what was in the community, and where opportunity could be found. Sometimes these pages involved sprawling text areas; at others, icons helped readers process content; meanwhile, maps and image collages brought context to the overall presentation.

Downtown Investment Campaign booklet
Downtown Investment Campaign booklet

Our approach to information graphics was admittedly forceful and direct. The black and white approach lent itself appropriately to this presentation. This gutsy approach came through in the content as well—for example, in one area residents openly note what they like and dislike about their community.

Downtown Investment Campaign booklet
Downtown Investment Campaign booklet
Downtown Investment Campaign booklet
Downtown Investment Campaign booklet

As the presentation came to a close, we went to the heart of the issue with an unvarnished look at the growth forecasts and financial indicators for the city. Like the rest of the package, we parceled content into short, easily digestible areas, allowing readers to quickly survey the information and make up their own minds.


  • Consulting, analysis, and planning
  • Stakeholder involvement and information sessions
  • Marketing strategy and plan for execution
  • Creative concept and design direction
  • Advertising campaign and media plan

Key Benefits

  • Presents a clear, factual promise to potential investors
  • Deliberately embraces weaknesses to explore opportunities
  • Commands a bold, brave position with real grit
  • Lays out a clear framework for ongoing marketing
  • Afforded core stakeholders involvement in the process


  • Comprehensive marketing strategy and documentation
  • Investor marketing kit (folders, cards, display booth, etc.)
  • Real stories from the residents of Prince George
  • Advertising campaign creative