On August 9 2011, following three days of disturbances in London, copycat riots broke out in Manchester and Salford, causing millions of pounds worth of damage.

Out of chaos came creativity. The inaugural I Love MCR® campaign was launched as an antidote to anti-social behaviour and an expression of unity and unconditional love for the city of Manchester.

It started when city centre based graphic designer Chris Greenhalgh watched a gang of youths trying to break into a petrol station on Cheetham Hill Road from the balcony of his Green Quarter flat.

He wanted to go downstairs and ‘beat them up like Batman’ but thought better of it. Instead he opened his laptop.

During a trip to New York in 2008 to visit an old friend who had moved to the US, Chris was impressed by the I Love NY symbol and how ubiquitous it seemed to be. The 1977 design by NYC born designer Milton Glaser inspired him to create and trade mark the I Love MCR® symbol which years later would become a campaign.

“I opened up my Illustrator file and exported the design for social media,” says creator Chris Greenhalgh. “Contrary to popular belief at the time, the ‘MCR’ characters of the logo do NOT stand for Americans band ‘My Chemical Romance’ ha ha!

“The most effective symbol is one which gets the message across instantaneously with no words, so an abbreviation for Manchester was important.”

Using his new I Love MCR® social media accounts, he started a campaign which brought together people who were horrified by the riots. It attracted thousands of followers and groups of clean ups.

Facebook and Twitter users started to change their profile pictures to the I Love MCR® logo.

Just 48 hours after going viral on social media and gaining recognition from Manchester City Council, the sign began to appear on posters, on shop fronts, buses, lamp-posts and hoardings. It was even projected on to buildings – most notably on the CIS Tower.

Manchester Airport posted the logo above check-in desks and on screens inside the terminals. Coronation Street stars and celebrities including United and City players were pictured show their support wearing I Love MCR® T-shirts. Manchester Pride handed out I Love MCR® flags during the Parade.

Out of the wreckage of the riots came a remarkable display of civic pride and community spirit. A small minority of thugs, criminals and opportunists had taken to the streets to riot and loot. A much larger number of decent folk came together to show their pride in their city.

Around the time, Labour Party local councillor Pat Karney said the riots were “one of the darkest days in Manchester history.” But it also displayed some of the city’s brightest and bravest qualities.

The I Love MCR® logo united the people of Manchester and became a symbol of the city’s resilience and defiance.

Council leaders urge shops to cut prices as part of the drive to boost the city’s economy.

“The I Love MCR® campaign makes us all feel rightly proud of our city and its people and shows the world what real Mancunians look like,” said Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council.

“The city has embraced it with enthusiasm and there is no better way of demonstrating that spirit than getting out and enjoying everything the city centre has to offer – whether it’s shopping, culture or nightlife…”

Inspired by the I Love MCR® movement and its association with the positive action taken by residents and businesses, The Lord Mayor of Manchester’s Charity Appeal Trust adopted its look and feel and became the We Love MCR Charity which aims to improve the lives and life chances of the people of Manchester.

Last year, the people of Manchester adopted the I Love MCR® sign once again following the terror attack on the Manchester Arena in which 22 innocent people lost their lives and hundreds more were injured.

Newly-elected mayor Andy Burnham changed his social media profile to the I Love Manchester symbol. So did hundreds of others.

It was seen on signs held by members of the public at the vigil in Albert Square. The symbol gained global visibility and became what The Independent called ‘a ubiquitous image of defiance’. It was even printed on the side of a Thomas Cook airplane…

What began in 2011 as a social media and guerrilla marketing campaign has become a vehicle for bringing together Mancunians – and anyone who loves Manchester – to celebrate the city and the things that make it such an extraordinary place.

7 years ago: the first I Love MCR® campaign was born and united a great city I Love Manchester

Today, I Love MCR® continues to optimistically champion a better future for the city.

Inspire, create and bring people, charities, and businesses together all over Greater Manchester in one big community. The city stands together as one and will not be divided.

I Love MCR® effectively inform people what makes the city such a special place to live, work and visit with a variety of positive news, and advertising and marketing strategies – using media partnerships with organisations such as CityCo & The Heart of Manchester Business Improvement District and Manchester City Council – to help boost the local economy and show the world that the people of Manchester are proud of their city.

Show your love and support

Help spread the love. Show your support and love for Manchester by purchasing I Love MCR® merchandise and Manchester souvenirs from the online shop. What’s more, a percentage of proceeds from the sale of all items are donated to local charities.

For more information about I Love MCR® and current initiatives visit www.ilovemcr.com

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