Birmingham needs to stop dwelling on pointless issues like the "second city" debate and start highlighting its strengths on the national and international stage, according to the man leading the city's marketing campaign.

Neil Rami, chief executive of Marketing Birmingham, spoke of his belief that the city was on the verge of major breakthrough as final preparations were made for the opening of a new office in London next week.

But he warned that the city's obsession with carrying out post-mortems on decisions like the one to take the Motor Show away from the NEC, and the recent debate about whether Birmingham or Manchester, should be regarded as the "second city" were actually hindering progress and potentially doing more harm to the city.

"What Birmingham really doesn't recognise is our importance to Great Britain plc," he said. "As we don't appreciate this enough ourselves, it follows that we don't play this card enough.

"This Birmingham versus Manchester competition to be second city is a load of nonsense. This is a vanity issue and the debate about where we stand alongside other cities is a complete waste of time.

"It only serves to highlight problems that we have, as well the outdated image the city still suffers with, and it ignores all the reasons why we should be shouting about how great Birmingham is.

"Why air these negative issues in public? Why don't we just identify our weaknesses behind closed doors, deal with them, and let other people chase these vanity titles?"

He expressed frustration at what he described as the endless and unproductive post-mortems that invariably greet a decision like the Motor Show moving back to London, or the failed attempt to secure the new national football stadium.

"This type of post-mortem misses the point," he said. "It is all about complaining that we're missing out on some glittering prize, rather than taking stock and learning lessons and making improvements. It means we're not competing effectively.

"I have never heard of a major event such as this [the Motor Show] staying in one place for longer than 30 years. It just doesn't happen because different venues and different cities compete and from time to time offer something new and better.

"What we should be doing is highlighting the fact that the Motor Show stayed here for so many years, focusing on the reasons why it has now moved somewhere else, and making sure we're competitive enough to win it back."

Part of that process, he said, was the motivation for Monday's official opening of Birmingham's groundbreaking London office in Piccadilly.

The venue, to be called Birmingham W1, is designed to give the city a higher profile and a full-time presence on the doorstep of the nation's decision makers.

Mr Rami said he was confident that Birmingham would now achieve a new push forward.

"The challenge here is really not about resources, it is as much about how you build confidence and trust," he said.

"When you look at successful cities across the world, they are in the business of attracting two very important things ? talent and resources. Birmingham has been doing that for years, so it is right to describe it as a successful international city.

"However I have a very strong view that cities, by their very nature, ebb and flow. You simply can't be opening something new or launching something different every day of the week. These things happen in cycles.

"I do think we are on an upward curve again and the last time that really happened in a major way was during the G8 summit.

"That really opened the eyes of the world to what was happening in Birmingham and I think we're on the verge of another 'summit' type event that will take us forward again."