Reaping the benefits of neighbourhood marketing in Brussels

An inspirational initiative is raising the profile of some of the most deprived areas in the Capital of Europe. Driven by a multi-partner team, the project ‘Marketing urbain’ highlights the attractiveness and sustainability of the initiatives for local people, visitors and investors.

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Exhibition ‘Foto Kanal – Icons’ in Brussels Canal area. © ADT-ATO Exhibition ‘Foto Kanal – Icons’ in Brussels Canal area. © ADT-ATO

" Our project has familiarised people with the assets, potential and forward-looking attitude of the Brussels Canal area and nearby districts. "

Alfredo Corbalan, coordinator of the project ‘Marketing urbain’

Launched in 2008, the project focuses on the Brussels Canal area and the city’s central districts. It brings together 19 regional development partners from the public sector, and cooperates with private firms and local associations. It is coordinated by ADT-ATO, the urban development agency of Brussels-Capital Region.

Step one involved an ‘identity study’ of this area, long associated with deprivation. The resulting image and communications strategy promotes the canals and city centre’s many positive sides, without ignoring the challenges.

Community-wide engagement

This strategy highlights local progress in everything from housing to job creation, centred round 34 urban regeneration projects supported by the EU and Brussels-Capital Region. It also underlines the growth and innovation potential of a young, dynamic and culturally diverse population.

“We had extensive local participation from the start,” notes Alfredo Corbalan, coordinator of ‘Marketing urbain’. He points to the many workshops, some held in neighbourhood parks, involving the whole community. Professional artists also came up with a series of illustrations to highlight the hopes and dreams of teenagers or citizens lacking the language skills to express themselves formally.

Encouraging investment

Notable initiatives include the launch of Bru+, a website/newsletter about local personalities, new developments and investment opportunities around the Canal area. The project also promoted the area through a city-wide poster campaign, plus an elegant brochure and video aimed at Belgian and foreign investors. It also backed two local photography exhibitions in the open space, and a book featuring the words and images of local youngsters.

In April 2014, ADT-ATO organised a ‘Canal Days 2014’ conference. This brought together 400 regional, national and European level politicians and experts to assess all the changes, assets and projects underway in this part of Brussels.

The project ‘Marketing urbain’ has created the equivalent of four full-time jobs, two of which are for women.


Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Marketing Urbain” is EUR 3 166 955 which the European Regional Development Fund is contributing from the Operational Programme “Brussels Capital Region” for the 2007 to 2013 programming period.


Draft date

03/06/2015