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The zombies of sleepy hollow: reimagining Geelong

Version 2 2024-06-17, 16:52
Version 1 2015-12-11, 22:36
conference contribution
posted on 2024-06-17, 16:52 authored by FK Gray, M Novacevski
Place branding is traditionally concerned with drawing on the positive and unique elements of a community to generate investment and build community pride. In 2014 a promotional video was released portraying Geelong as a zombie town, with flamboyant Mayor Darryn Lyons riding in on horseback to save the city and its people. The imagery was more at home in cult zombie cinema than a tourism promotion. Critics berated the video as an ill-conceived stunt that carried a message derisive to the local community. Supporters focused on the bold, creative nature of the endeavour, claiming its potential to ‘go viral’ would enhance Geelong’s media presence, improve the city’s perception and draw visitors to the area. Geelong was first badged ‘Sleepy Hollow’ in the 1860s when the new gold towns of Ballarat and Bendigo boomed, challenging its supremacy as a commercial centre. Geelong prospered in the 1920s through industrialisation, but the moniker has remained. Today, Geelong faces a period of economic uncertainty and transition as it adjusts to major job losses in manufacturing. While this presents significant challenges, it also creates opportunities for the city to re-imagine itself by capitalising on the physical and cultural assets that set Geelong apart. While the zombie video has sparked debate, its success in influencing views of the city is constrained by its references to past stigma and its imposition of a new sense of dystopia in the present. This paper explores the Sleepy Hollow predicament and considers how the branding of Geelong might move beyond parody to better reflect its position as Victoria’s largest regional centre through an approach based on imageability, narrative, assets and investment.





Gold Coast, Qld.

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Publication classification

E Conference publication, E1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2015, Griffith University

Title of proceedings

SOAC 2015: Proceedings of the State of Australian Cities National Conference


State of Australian Cities Conference (2015 : Gold Coast, Qld.)


Griffith University

Place of publication

Gold Coast, Qld.

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