City Council puts the wrong Birmingham in the picture
Birmingham City Council has been left red-faced after using a photograph of Birmingham, Alabama, in an official leaflet about recyling in the city.
It started dropping through 360,000 letterboxes across the city last week, providing information about and promoting the efforts of Birmingham City Council’s recycling operations.
Included in it are details of what, where and when to recycle and a photograph of the Birmingham skyline.
Another photograph bears the legend ‘Thank You Birmingham’ above an image of a city skyline. This particular image however is not of Birmingham, UK, but Birmingham, Alabama, in the USA.
Despite the gaffe, council officials have insisted the pamphlet - a second print run of the Recycle: Your Questions Answered - will not be recalled, pulped or reprinted.
The mistake was spotted by Jon Cooper when the leaflet was delivered to his Kings Norton home. The 37-year-old, who works for a Midland packaging firm, said: “I emailed the council last week, after the leaflet came through my door, to draw attention to their mistake.
“I work in the packaging industry and we have to check all our printed materials thoroughly, because if we don’t spot a mistake you can be sure Sainsbury’s or Tesco will, which is why I can’t believe nobody at the council noticed this before the leaflets were sent out.
“I’m a regular visitor to the States, so when I saw that image on the back of it I instantly knew that it was a US city, not Birmingham in the West Midlands, so I 'Googled' it and found it was an image of Birmingham, Alabama.”
Mr Cooper added: “I would have thought the city council would be a bit more bothered about the image that they put out of this Birmingham, especially if it’s going into hundreds of thousands of homes.
“I am sure this was a simple mistake by whoever was asked to find a picture of the city, but who is checking this stuff?”
A city council spokesman claimed there was "no point tinkering with it” and described the offending photo as “a generic skyline picture”.
He added: “The picture on the leaflet is meant to symbolically represent an urban area. Since its first publication last year, the leaflet has been well-received by residents, and is the most requested document to be produced by the Fleet and Waste Management Department.
“Feedback from households has been very positive - the leaflet has achieved its aim of informing citizens about the recycling options, both doorstep and other, that are available to them.
“On a total production run of 720,000 copies, the council has received just one query about the use of a generic skyline picture.”
This is not the first time Birmingham’s distinctive skyline - with iconic buildings like the Rotunda, Beetham Tower and the BT Tower - has been mistaken for its American namesake.
Last January, West Midlands’ Conservative MEPs made the same mistake on their website. On that occasion they were swift to replace the image - within 24 hours - to one of Selfridges’ distinctive discs and the spire of St Martin’s in the Bull Ring.
Eagle-eyed Labour MP Tom Watson (Lab West Bromwich East) had spotted their mistake and offered to take his Conservative rivals on a sight-seeing tour of the city to ensure they were familiar with its landmarks.
Like its Midland namesake, Birmingham, Alabama, is an city built on industry and manufacturing but has a significantly smaller population of about 230,000, compared with the million-plus residents who live here.
Marketing Birmingham, the agency charged with promoting the city nationally and overseas, declined to comment on the council’s case of mistaken identity.
* Are you as confused as the council seems to be by Birmingham, West Midlands, and Birmingham, Alabama? Give us your views on Joanna Geary's blog post "Thank you Birmingham Alabama our recycling saviours!".