Essex wants to challenge stereotypes popularised in TOWIE

Gemma Collins attending the press launch for the upcoming series of Dancing On Ice at the Natural Hi

Former TOWIE star Gemma Collins - but tourism chiefs want to show there is more to Essex than what is portrayed in the TV show - Credit: PA

National TV adverts will be broadcast from March to attract more people to the county and challenge TOWIE stereotypes.

Essex County Council and its tourism arm Visit Essex has been redrawing the way it markets the county- and its £3.4billion tourism industry since 2019 – to focus more closely at Essex’s wide ranging diversity.

Lisa Bone, strategic tourism manager at Essex County Council, told the authority’s Place Services and Economic Growth Policy and Scrutiny Committee on January 10 that stereotypes, including those popularised in TOWIE, will remain the default if they are not challenged through effective marketing.

The campaign has already included a promotional film staring Michelin-starred chefs and a scientist to promote the county.

But now viewers on Sky can expect to see further TV advertising from March aimed at increasing level of awareness of the county further.

Constable Country: People enjoying a day by the river in Dedham.

Dedham is one of the jewel's in the crown of Essex - Credit: Archant

Ms Bone said in the meeting: “There’s lots of talk about the way that the media talks about Essex but in my opinion if we don’t tell them what we want them to say about us then they’re always going to talk about this in a certain way. So we need to give them that new narrative.

“It’s very much about trying to challenge the stereotypes to get people to think about Essex in a slightly different way and much more than in the context of just visiting, but about positioning Essex because it’s a great place, not just to visit but also to live work and invest.”

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The tourism team launched a Coastal Essex film along with a microsite highlighting the country’s extensive 350-mile coastline in May.

Other PR strategies that have been launched to promote Essex include Gourmet Garden Trails, Break Away Form the Crowds and Make Memories Close to Home.

In 2022 The tourism team, in addition to TV advertising, plan a campaign for another Essex Big Weekend – in which tourist attractions, venues, restaurants, experiences and destinations offer complimentary tickets or a special experience for visitors – and a food and drink campaign with films, trails and a focus on local produce use.

Figures show that Covid badly affected tourism in Essex – with £1.6bn generated from the sector in 2020 compared to £3.5bn in 2019.

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