I AM absolutely delighted to see Glasgow's Miles Better back again. It

should never have been away. The campaign captured the imagination of

Glaswegians who promoted it into the language. Such an investment of

money and energy should not have been allowed to dissipate into the

various logos and slogans that followed for the Garden Festival, the

Year of Culture, and the city itself. They were all doomed to failure,

not necessarily because they were bad but because they were second.

But, of course, politics were involved. Strathclyde Regional Council

had never been entirely comfortable with the original campaign which

they felt kept the city's image higher than theirs and, despite their

claims that Glasgow was the heart of the region, never helped in the

funding of its main promotional vehicle.

So when all these other activities began the region wanted a different

campaign. So, too, did the Government. Too much credit couldn't be given

to a Labour-controlled local authority. Thus the organisers of Year of

Culture, for example, demanded a new logo when Mr Happy could easily

have been adapted.

The gap must have harmed Glasgow's marketing effort. And bringing the

campaign back is not as effective as a continuing developing initiative

would have been. The whole thing needs to be cranked up again.

But in the welter of publicity that has greeted the return of the wee

man, I have seen very little analysis of the objectives of the campaign.

For new readers here is the rationale when it all began in The Herald 12

years ago.

By the end of the seventies Glasgow had smartened itself up. There

were the stone-cleaned buildings, there was the urban motorway system to

sweep businessmen to and from the airport, there was the Burrell

Collection. But, we weren't getting the credit for it. Fleet Street and

BBC2 still regarded the city as the only place to go to cover urban

deprivation, violence, bigotry, football hooliganism, and gang warfare.

To a city council trying to help revive the local economy this was

very bad news indeed. I was asked to front initiatives to attract

dispersing civil servants. I was also supposed to try to get visitors to

spend some time and money in Glasgow. But I couldn't get past first

base. The city's image condemned it before I had a chance to make the

pitch. I decided to do something about it by ''adapting'' the idea of

the I Love New York campaign to change people's perceptions of Glasgow.

But it wasn't to be simply PR hype. There was actually something to be

boastful about. Great effort over a number of years had been put into

making Glasgow better. What we were trying to do was to draw attention

to the dramatic improvements that had taken place and to focus the

London media's mind, in particular, on the positive aspects of Glasgow.

Thus they were allowed to ''discover'' Charles Rennie Mackintosh, our

Victorian architecture, our municipal museums, and our renovated


I spent sleepless nights before the launch of the campaign dreading

that any claim that Glasgow might have a bright side would be greeted

with sceptical laughter. So I was careful about what we claimed. That

was why the slogan was a comparative, not a superlative, though many

Glaswegians treated it as the latter. Perception of the city was so bad

that we had to be ready to prove every claim. As it turned out,

journalists' expectations were so low that they were easily impressed by

the merest hint of sophistication.

So that was the real purpose, to ensure that Glasgow was given credit

for its good points. It was also hoped that if this change of image

produced specific results, like bringing more visitors in, then more

investment, public and private, in the new type of business

infrastructure would be encouraged. This worked as well, with general

approval being given to efforts to develop the service industries which

were both foreign to Glasow's industrial history and at the same time

the only growth areas on a bleak economic landscape.

The unforeseen bonus was the tremendous impact that the campaign made

on Glaswegians themselves. They loved the opportunity to articulate what

they felt about their city. They gloried in the waves of positive

publicity. The Sunday Times actually reckoned that Glasgow was

''possibly the most exciting city in the United Kingdom''! And we all

loved it. This buzz created the environment where we could organise a

successful Garden Festival and pitch credibly for the European City of

Culture title.

The objectives of the exercise were thus achieved. Glasgow's image was

changed permanently. Coverage is now much more balanced. Bad stories

still emanate -- stories about urban deprivation, unemployment, and more

recently drug abuse. But they are justified. And there are rarely used

as an excuse to write off the whole city. So there is no need for us to

fight that battle again.

So we must be absolutely clear about the campaign's objectives now. I

have still to be convinced that these have been properly thought

through. To focus on a small point. The new Mr Happy has a toothy grin.

Yet Glasgow has one of the worst dental health records in the country

and both district and regional councillors have rejected the

fluoridation of the water supplies as the safe and obvious solution.

This hardly suggests that the care that was taken in the eighties in

ensuring that the campaign's claims were bomb-proof, is still there.

I am sure that many people already feel good about seeing Mr Happy

back. But if the effort stops at nostalgia, disillusionment will quickly

follow. If one of the journalists who covered the original campaign came

back now and asked us what the city had achieved in the past five years,

what would we tell him? The last new development of any consequence was

the Royal Concert Hall. I suppose you would also include the

redevelopment of Ibrox Stadium, and the international expansion of

Glasgow Airport. Not much else, really.

The whole essence of the original Glasgow's Miles Better campaign was

to focus on real achievements. Its relaunch with the news that Glasgow

is to be the City of Architecture in 1999 should be ideal -- though it

is still a long way off. We have nothing much at present in the way of

recent achievements to point to. So we should use the next five years to

set targets and to improve particular aspects of the city's life. These

must be achievable -- and publicisable -- but can be local and

small-scale, and may not be bricks-and-mortar projects.

Man cannot live by bread alone, and the middle classes of Glasgow will

ensure that we continue to develop our share of circuses. But we need

projects of imagination and flair, and this is where the Glasgow

Development Agency should be leading, instead of meekly following

commercial interests as they seem to be doing at present.

I cannot believe how they have persistently looked a development

gift-horse in the mouth for so long at their ludicrously-named ''Pacific

Quay'' site. Herald readers have not been slow to point out the flaws of

their proposals, and I'm afraid that Stuart Gulliver's responses have

been those of someone not willing to stake his job and his reputation on

something more visionary.

That something has been staring him in the face for several years --

namely the Clyde Maritime Museum proposals, with or without the appended

Tivoli Gardens transplantation. These are ideas which would touch the

Glasgow public and receive their endorsement. Another business park,

even with a science centre attached, will not.

Such large flagship projects commanding widespread popular support are

essential to keep the claims of the Glasgow's Miles Better campaign on

course. But I feel that Glasgow is in danger of running out of steam. It

may be that the Year of Culture exhausted the budgets of local

businesses. It may be that the recession has lasted too long. It is

certainly a product of the prejudice against public expenditure.

The one good feature of the GDA's proposed scheme for the former

Garden Festival site is the marvellous modern tower, to symbolise

Glasgow in the new millennium. But I fear it might simply be condemned

as a folly if there is nothing surrounding it to match its inspiration.

* Dr Kelly was Lord Provost of Glasgow during the original Glasgow's

Miles Better campaign.