Pricey PR campaign aims to fix Minneapolis’ negative image

The suits at Meet Minneapolis, the group in charge of promoting the place as a destination, know they have a big image problem. The city’s reputation took a serious hit and never recovered following the George Floyd debacle, riots, burned out buildings and out of control violent crime rate. Thousands of residents continue to move out of the City of Lakes each year, even as many downtown office buildings remain half-empty or worse.

It’s gotten to the point where Meet Minneapolis dipped into its reserves to launch an $850,000 public relations campaign to try to turn the city’s image around. The “See What All The Fuss Is About” campaign acknowledges on its website that there’s a lot of trash talk–negative fussing–on social media and elsewhere about Minneapolis.

Perhaps you’ve heard or read somewhere that Minneapolis is “a ghost town” or that “it’s overrun.” There’s definitely been some misinformed, negative fuss floating around about our city. So we’re setting the record straight. Through our new tourism campaign we invite travelers to “See What All the Fuss is About.” This campaign is Minneapolis’ chance to take back the mic. Because for people who live in or visit Minneapolis, it’s pretty fussing amazing.

The broadcast, billboard and digital campaign will be aimed at residents living 15 to 300 miles away. The target audience says much about the challenge facing the city, indicating many living within relatively easy reach of Minneapolis remain reluctant about taking a chance on returning downtown.

…we have set out to address those misperceptions head-on and reclaim the city’s narrative. The campaign was designed to boldly and confidently tell the city’s story to people who used to travel to Minneapolis often – as well as those who are new to the destination – by highlighting the remarkable things that the city has to offer. Minneapolis natives embrace the diverse variety of world-class experiences people can have in the state’s largest city. However, negative perceptions have overshadowed the abundance of positive experiences which visitors can enjoy.

The promoters told KARE-11 consumers may not like the ads but they’ll remember them.

For example, one of the campaign’s billboards features a close-up picture of desserts with wording that says “Desserted, but not like you think.”

Another billboard features a picture of empty cocktail glasses with words that read “Empty, but not like Twitter says.”

“We’d rather have someone say they love it or hate it than have them say it’s nice and forget about it,” [Meet Minneapolis vice president Courtney] Ries says.

It’s the biggest PR blitz Meet Minneapolis has undertaken in years. Still, one can’t help but wonder whether the most effective PR campaign to convince visitors to come see what all the fuss is about would be to hire dozens more Minneapolis police officers and station them conspicuously on the streets.