09 Aug 2022

'Derry' Christmas billboards removed from the Waterside area of the city following complaints from unionists

A festive marketing billboard erected by the local council in the Waterside area of the city has been removed after unionist politicians objected to the use of the phrase ‘Derry Christmas’. The concerns over the campaign, launched by Derry City and Strabane District Council were initially raised by the Deputy Mayor, the Ulster Unionist councillor Derek Hussey at a council committee meeting, after he was made aware that council was using the slogan ‘Have yourself a very Derry Christmas’. His concerns were supported by the DUP’s Graham Warke and David Ramsey. Alderman Warke has also claimed that members of the public complained to the DUP after a large billboard with the branding appeared close to Spencer Road at the Clooney Terrace and Dungiven Road junction. In a statement issued to the Derry News yesterday, the council confirmed the billboard has been removed earlier than planned to reflect the councillors’ concerns. The council spokesperson added that it has since ‘amended’ its festive campaign. Speaking to the Derry News, all of the unionist councillors said they would like to see ‘more inclusive’ branding which reflects both sides of the community by utilising ‘Derry’ and ‘Londonderry’ in its wording. “The Christmas programming was brought to the council in September and within that we were assured that it would be developed in such a way so as to be inclusive,” Alderman Hussey said. “I feel that using ‘Have yourself a very Londonderry Christmas’ works just as well. “There has to be work done to ensure that within branding we remain inclusive and there has been subsequent branding that reflects that desire. “When I raised it to council officials and was supported by Graham and David, officials approached us and assured us that our concerns had been taken on board and this would be reflected. “Officers reflect the concerns of councillors and if indeed there has been a billboard changed to reflect that inclusiveness it is to be welcomed.” Meanwhile the DUP’s David Ramsey, said the council was ‘airbrushing culture and tradition’ through the omission of ‘Londonderry’ from its campaign. “We were hoping for the same to continue but for some reason or other this is not happening so people are thinking it’s another snub,” he said. “We’re expecting council to fix this, because why go from a positive to a negative when the city is seen as having a good cross-community attitude.” His party colleague, Alderman Grahame Warke added that he was voicing the concerns of members of the public to make the council aware of the issue for future campaigns. “Loads of people have been in contact with us,” he told the Derry News. “There was a billboard up in the Waterside area near Spencer Road and there were issues at Halloween too. “Branding has to be for everyone and we can’t have people feeling left out of events.” ‘Amended’ A spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council said that the aim of the festive marketing campaign is to positively promote the retail offering and Christmas Programming in the City and District over the Christmas shopping period. She said: “This year’s campaign intended to engage visitors with a catchy slogan using wordplay in the tagline ‘Have yourself a very Derry Christmas’. “However, it has since been highlighted by some council members that this may not be considered inclusive by all members of the community and as such has been amended in some campaign branding. “Council has received no complaints from the public in response to our festive advertising, but as with all our marketing activities, we welcome feedback and take this into consideration in the planning of all our campaigns. “The billboard in Spencer Road has been refreshed slightly earlier than planned to reflect members’ concerns.”

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