According to O’Driscoll (2008), paradox characterises marketing in the ‘after modern’ epoch. This is certainly true of place marketing, which is often described as a paradox-rich domain (Dinnie, 2011). Drawing upon the results of a novel, culture-based research procedure,
this paper describes the paradoxical outcomes of an urban branding exercise in Belfast, one of the world’s most infamous cities. Albeit dismissed by local worthies as a futile attempt to ‘put lipstick on a gorilla’, this paper argues that Belfast’s branding is not only
far from futile but a perversely paradoxical form of marketing that’s so bad it’s good.