A CAMPAIGN which challenges the Essex stereotype has been shortlisted for an award.

Visit Essex, the county’s tourism body, and Colchester PR agency Big Wave have received the joint shortlist at the PRCA Dare Awards for #ThisIsEssex.

The project was launched in autumn 2019 and encouraged the people of Essex to step forward and showcase the real stars of the county.

Novelists, an oysterman, chefs and a comedian, among many others, stepped forward, including best-selling novelist Martina Cole and Michelin star chefs, the Galvin Brothers.

Photo and film shoots began and a new calendar and a pop-up gallery of Essex was launched. Fast forward to October 2020 and a new film dispelling Essex stereotypes premiered on BBC Breakfast and gained nearly 500,000 online views.

In all the campaign provided over one billion opportunities to see and helped reposition Essex as a place to visit, live, study and invest.

Lisa Bone, Visit Essex’s strategic tourism manager, said: “The perception of Essex, for many years, has been on people rather than place. We needed to confront stereotypes in a bold and tongue-in-cheek fashion before providing a new narrative.”

While Hilary Collins, founder and managing director of Big Wave PR, added: “Our team members live in the county and, as PRs, getting to challenge the Essex stereotype was such as great opportunity, definitely a highpoint in our careers.”

“We’ve all experienced the Essex jokes, but I, like many others, love Essex and after travelling the world I decided to call it my home.

“We’re so glad the campaign has made people take a second look at Essex and we’re over the moon to have made the PRCA Dare awards shortlist.”

The winners of the awards will be announced on July 1.