Which 13 World Cities Transform Our Lives?

See Trendspotter Dave McCaughan's List: Shanghai, Tokyo, New York, London, Seoul, Rio, Tehran and More; Plus, Is Facebook a Place?

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Dave McCaughan
Dave McCaughan
We asked a simple enough question -- "Write down the five cities, other than your own, that you believe will have the most influence in transforming the lives of people in your country over the next few years." We got a lot of debate about the nature of the way we see the world.

As part of a new McCann PULSE of the trends driving future consumers, we asked 120 of our own planning leaders around the world and 50-plus marketers and market commentators for their opinion in creating lists of the 13 cities that really matter. Of course, any exercise like this is great at generating debate and testing your geography knowledge.

Strangely, and sadly for me personally, two of the cities I would call "home" only received one mention each. Sydney might often rank as one of the "best cities to live" but was not seen as transformational. More surprisingly, the Eternal City, Rome -- despite Mr. Berlusconi's constant attempts to grab the news and the presence of the Vatican -- is just not on people's minds when they think of trends.

Perhaps the most shocking omission from anyone's suggestions was Bangalore. Only a few years ago it seemed all the rage as a leading transformation center for the IT industry. So it's indicative of how fast the world changes in the digital age that what was all the rage in 2005 was forgotten by the end of 2010. Interestingly, too, there was no mention of Seattle/ Redmond. Does that mean Microsoft and Starbucks are no longer seen as transformative powers?

Then again, many cities mentioned as driving or representing real change are surprises -- places like Sanaa, Dhaka, Accra, Masdar, Jakarta and Istanbul. You might have to look some of them up, but in different ways they are world leaders in driving new ideas.

Here are the 13 cities that people around the world talk about as driving transformation, with comments from respondents. See if you agree.

View 13 World Cities That Transform Lives in a larger map

13. FACEBOOK: Technically not a city, but a number of people pointed out that Facebook has become a place you choose to migrate to, where you live and maybe work in micro suburbs you build yourself with "friends" as neighbors. Just like real cities, it has barriers to entry and success and a "government" that "the great amount of citizens don't realize exists until they become unpopular."

If you can plot all these on a map, here are some of the most popular among the "next 13" mentioned: New Delhi, Washington, Dubai, Detroit, Lagos, Mexico City, Miami, Copenhagen, Berlin, Singapore and Dublin.

Dave McCaughan is the Tokyo-based regional strategic planning director at McCann WorldGroup Asia Pacific.
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