IN 1987, a striking new piece of graffiti was discovered on the Berlin Wall.

The Glasgow Miles Better campaign character, Mr Happy, was painted on the Wall, said the Evening Times, “right under the noses of East German guards - that’s their watchtower to the right of the artwork, only yards from Checkpoint Charlie”.

The main image here was taken not by an Evening Times photographer but by Malcolm Munro, then a student of architecture at the University of Strathclyde, while he was on a study trip.

His attention was caught by the familiar symbol, painted by two artists, Norry and Mike.

“There were quite a few students over from Glasgow in Berlin”, Malcolm told the paper. “Obviously, some of them decided to get the message over.

“The Berlin people were friendly and made us welcome. I crossed through to the East twice. It was on one of the visits that I spotted the logo”.

The Glasgow’s Miles Better campaign was hugely successful and brought the city worldwide publicity. Indeed, there were reported sightings of Miles Better stickers in the Himalayas and in a town called Khabarovsk, eight days and 6,000 miles east of Moscow.

The campaign was launched amidst considerable fanfare in June 1983, and it was clear that much was riding on its success.

Dr Michael Kelly, the Lord Provost at the time, said: “Glasgow’s old image as a city associated with drink, dirt and crime still plagues us. This does great harm.

“Having travelled abroad a lot, I know that the problem of Glasgow’s bad image is the one which is always highlighted.

“People inside and outside the city want something done about this. It is time to proclaim the new reality”.

He would also make the telling point that, by the late 1970s, despite Glasgow having made considerable improvements, “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”.

Phase one of the new campaign -- fronted, the Herald noted, “by Mr Happy, a Mr Man character with a cheesy grin” -- involved encouraging Glaswegians to promote the city and its message as Scotland’s major commercial and industrial centre, with first-rate tourist and conference facilities and one of the great art collections of Europe.

The second phase would involve spreading the message worldwide; Dr Kelly was waiting for the government to announce that a ban on aircraft advertising was to be lifted; this would allow the slogan to be written in the sky and trailed on a banner behind an aircraft.

The Lord Provost envisaged using this tactic as far afield as New York, it was reported. The city and its “I Love New York” campaign had provided the inspiration for the Glasgow initiative.

The slogan, Glasgow’s Miles Better, was devised by John Struthers, one of the city’s most prominent advertising executives.

Struthers had originally suggested Go With Glasgow, but Dr Kelly was not convinced. As he later recounted: “I said to John: ‘I need a slogan I can die for.’ A week later he came back with Glasgow’s Miles Better. He was tentative, but I thought it was superb.’’

Dr Kelly had three sleepless weeks before the slogan and the campaign were launched. He needn’t have worried. The campaign put him, and the city, on the map.

“It was an external, international campaign, yet I think its greatest benefit was the way it revived the belief Glaswegians had in their own city”, he said. “It released a great reservoir of latent pride. We created a huge buzz in the city, and it was sustained for several years.’’

The campaign won a host of domestic and international awards (Dr Kelly is seen, left, with one accolade), but Mr Happy was killed off before Glasgow’s Year of Culture began in 1990. In late 1994, however, he was resurrected by city leader Pat Lally, following a determined campaign by Struthers. “I am absolutely delighted to see Glasgow’s Miles Better back again”, responded Dr Kelly. “It should never have been away. The campaign captured the imagination of Glaswegians who promoted it into the language”.

Read more: Herald Diary