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20th Dec 2016

This Is Desperate – Property Developers Want To Rebrand Part Of Dublin ‘SOBO’


Look up in Dublin and you’ll see the cranes have popped up around the city again.

I even spotted a fellow stepping out of brand new Range Rover with Cavan reg plates, a hard hat and architect plans pointing at an empty site in D8 yesterday.

Part of me wants to think that it is just us media hyping up the return of the boom, trying to sensationalise what is in fact much needed building work on offices, homes and amenities. And a part of me is probably right.

But my feeling about this situation isn’t good – and I’m starting to worry that the last seven years of hardship and lost fortunes didn’t teach us a thing.

In fact, far from learning anything the property developers, PR merchants and estate agents have their heads back above the parapet – and now, they’re trying to ‘rebrand’ one of the most historic parts of the city to boost property values.

Introducing ‘SOBO’



The SOBO website is up and running, along with a campaign to get people involved. I cringed so hard scrolling through it, looking at their stylised photography, slick logos and the “Story” they have put around the area.

They even have a Facebook page.

Hello from SOBO District! Wish you were here…

Posted by SOBO District on Friday, November 6, 2015

People are obviously not going to like this

This is what the area looks like right now and contractors are actually using the hastag so this is a well orchestrated campaign

Here is what the people behind the campaign have to say about the area…

Fast forward to the 20th century and industrial workers were replaced by musicians and creatives, drawn by the reputation of the legendary Windmill Lane studios. The Joshua Tree album recorded here by U2 would go on to play an important part in Ireland’s elevation to the global stage. Now, SOBO District is at the heart of Dublin’s digital and fintech revolution, attracting companies like Three and Verizon and bounded by businesses like Facebook, Google and Citi.

Remember this vision that the PDs had for Dublin back in 2015. The similarities with the thinking in this plan are striking


But PR companies don’t get to name parts of cities

Lets cut to the chase here of what is going on.

This campaign has been created by property developers, estate agents and super high end PR companies. This is a branding exercise with the goals of “sexing up” the area and getting the values to hit nice inflated peaks.

Rewind 20 years and Ringsend and the Barrow Street area was fairly flat with cottages and communities dotting the river. While there are still family homes they have the sunlight crowded out by massive steel and glass towers – essential parts of the city’s development, sure, but at a huge cost. And one we want to limit.

But this – this is so cynical. You might say Pearse Street is positively rough at times, which clearly wouldn’t be good for getting higher rental yields from large international tech firms. But it’s a part of the city, and it will always be a part of the city.

No amount of fancy art work, social media campaigns or PR outreach is going to create a new name for an area of Dublin. Names like Cherry Orchard, The Liberties or Blackpitts weren’t brainstormed in a boardroom.

Kind of reminds us of this South Park skit…

You get the feeling there is going to be a big backlash against this, and rightly so. We can name our own areas without property developers telling us how to do it.

SOBO me arse.