Cycling metaphors for the business suits

Post by Mike Klassen in


Mayor Robertson's awkward moment when he realizes he's grabbed the wrong slide
Mayor Robertson's awkward moment when he realizes he's grabbed the wrong slide

About half-way through his meandering 25-minute speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade on Wednesday, Gregor Robertson shouted:


The silence that followed was the first of two defining moments of Gregor Robertson's pitch speech. It was as though Vancouver's Mayor had let one go and no one could summon the courage to mention it.

The cycling metaphor was not exactly appropos. Gregor wasn't at Critical Mass again, he was speaking to a business crowd who had all paid between 75 to 100 bucks each for a tiny portion of prime rib and some steamed carrots, as well as a "big announcement" on Vancouver's economic future. The Vancouver Board of Trade gang weren't exactly A Types who rev themselves up on Red Bull before breakfast. No cranking required when you're gliding home over the Burrard Bridge in a Mercedes with the windows rolled up and tuned into Radio Two.

Gregor, looking a little stumped by the stillness, waved his palms upward looking for a little audience response. "Come on, come on!" There was one "Whoo!" from the back of the room (Quinlan?) but the reaction was as about as excited as a damp squib.

Ever the California surf dude, Robertson used his extreme sports vocabulary to try and pump up the suits in the room:

What's been missing has been a strong coordinated commitment from City Hall, in partnership with the business community. I'm here today to say, let's kick it into gear.

Now, I'm sure we all appreciate the Mayor's sentiment, but Vancouver's economy isn't exactly NASCAR.

You can watch the whole sorry affair Robertson speech on's YouTube channel.

The second defining moment was the unveiling of his new logo that is supposed to brand our city as a Green Capital. Thinking perhaps that the sign was made of marble, Gregor ripped the cloth that hid the foam core board that the new logo was dry mounted on, thus knocking it to the floor. For a few seconds the Mayor fumbled with the card before holding it up like a Price is Right spokesmodel.

We'll have a few more things to say about Vancouver "going it alone" to hustle the world's business community into setting up here in a future post. Sean Bickerton, a guest editorialist and business person, points out that the inherent weakness of the Green Capital brand is that it is already widely in use around the globe, saying he was impressed with the Mayor's enthusiasm for marketing the city but:

I was a little less enthusiastic about the new very generic-sounding “Green Capital” branding, which is shared with Australia – , Stockholm – , Ottawa – etc.

The Vancouver Economic Development Commission, who have been working on this economic strategy for the city for the past several years, received their largest injection of funding after lobbying by former City Councillor Peter Ladner. Funnily enough, the Vision/COPE councillors all opposed supporting this initiative to increase the VEDC's funding, which had the net result of giving Gregor Robertson something to brag about to the business community on Wednesday. How ironic!

Another ironic twist to the Mayor's Green Capital branding exercise is how loudly the Vision councillors mocked Sam Sullivan and NPA for their EcoDensity branding (our ears still ring from the shrill protests). A Vision councillor even fed Frances Bula the erroneous story that Sam Sullivan had trademarked EcoDensity for personal gain, which was dutifully reported and never corrected for the public record. Now Vision are foursquare behind their leader as he launches a logo with great aplomb, and not much else.

Today, EcoDensity has become synonymous with Vancouver's green development, and is perhaps its most globally successful "green" brand. A smart marketer might like to capitalize on that, instead of starting all over again. Let's crank that idea into gear, shall we?


Say, isn't Spuzzum planning to brand itself as a "Green Capital" too?... Perhaps Mayor Robertson should opt for something fresh like "Gregortopia" or "Visionville"...

I wasn't as disappointed as Michael, although when we're known around the world for the award-winning ecodensity, it's hard to fathom why we'd run away from that brilliant accomplishment.

I did think that the brand for the city should reference our place and role in the region, the province, the country, and the world. Even Green Capital Gateway would be preferable for that reason. It would at least distinguish us from all of the other Green Capitals in the world.

And it would cement Vancouver's place as the Canadian gateway to Asia, BC's gateway to the U.S., and as the western gateway to the rest of Canada. That would give us both an adjective and a purpose! :)

It was good to hear the Mayor is going to coordinate economic development with Diane Watts in Surrey -she actually has a ten-year economic development plan in addition to the logo.

I'm very supportive of the Mayor's enthusiasm, though. We are all dependent on his success and I wish him well.

Gregor Robertson stood on the steps of City Hall and announced to representatives of Vancouver's communities that "Ecodensity was not on his radar screen."

A speech that cheezy, I'd FOI everything that came into contact with it to see if it was farmed out at $400 an hour or not. Drafts of the speech, any related bills or costs, directives...

Thanks for the tip...our FOI fund is running on fumes, but we'll see what we can do!

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