A Basildon advertising agency has been set the challenge of breaking down the Essex boy and girl myth and encouraging tourists to discover 'the real Essex'.

Page Advertising and Communications in Cranes Farm Road is preparing to roll out a new campaign for Essex County Council designed to change perceptions of the county as an urban wasteland full of brash, common people and highlight its softer side, in a bid to lure in well-to-do day-trippers.

A series of advertisements featuring photos of the county's rural, cultural and historical faces and featuring the theme Discover the Real Essex will hit magazines like Radio Times and newspapers at the end of the month, accompanied by a direct mail postcard campaign.

Managing director Stephen Bates said: "There are certain negative perceptions about Essex, and we need to chip away at those, to get people to think differently about the county."

Page, which saw off competition from three rival agencies to land the contract, is targeting the campaign at 38 to 60-year-old middle and senior managers living within the M25 area planning a day out or a long weekend.

This latest success for the company comes at a time when agencies generally are struggling in the face of slashed marketing budgets.

Published Thursday, March 21, 2002