Question: how do you represent your city or town – be it a major tourist destination, or an out-of-the-way farm town no one really knows about it – in a few snappy words?
Another question: should you even try?
When San Diego’s FM 94.9 radio station asked Lonely Planet for help on the city’s new tourist slogan (‘Happy Happens’) last week, I started poking around to a hundred or so tourism slogans around the country and noticed a few things.
- Many towns simply ask you to ‘visit,’ ‘experience’ or ‘discover’ them – no elaboration offered.
- Some demand you do things, with various imperatives (Laramie’s ‘Live the West,’ Chicago’s ‘Make No Little Plans,’ Jefferson City’s less insistent ‘You’ll Feel the History’).
- Others simply describe themselves (Denver’s ‘The Mile-High City,’ Lexington’s ‘Horse Capital of the World’).
- Many stress their proximity to adventure (Casper’s ‘Adventure Capital,’ Eugene’s ‘Real Adventures, Real Close’) or nature (Seattle’s charming ‘MetroNatural’).
- Some don’t worry about it: a list of slogan-free places ranging from Houston to Green Bay.
I’m all for a slogan, IF it makes sense – I really like Albuquerque’s ‘It’s a Trip’ and Salt Lake City’s “Different by Nature” is clever – but sometimes it’s not really worth forcing the issue. I mean, even New York City doesn’t have one.
This brings up my list of most questionable ones:
AMARILLO, “Step Into the Real Texas” You been? This Route 66 survivor – famed for its Cadillac Ranch and steaks – situates its stockyards just west, so the eastward breeze coming in from the Rockies sends a cow scent across town. When you catch it, walking on Amarillo parking lots, it’s tempting to look down and be sure NOT to step into the real Texas.
ANNAPOLIS, “Come Sail Away”
The city that used to bill itself as “Crabtown,” now asks you to come, listen to 1977 Styx songs, and LEAVE. Essentially, it could be “Drop By. Buy Fudge. Go.” This is akin to the Delaware state quarter, which shows a Delawarean (Caesar Rodney) on horseback leaving the state.
DALLAS, “Live Large. Think Big”
I’m not trying to pick on Texas – it’s just a bonus – but this one makes me dizzy. First of all, it’s demanding we double-task. Secondly, is there really a difference between “large” and “big”? Even in Texas? Their website could do without the Coldplay-esque soundtrack too.
FARGO, “Always Warm!”
I love you Fargo, but this is just not true. The average lows in January in Fargo are two degrees below zero.
PHILADELPHIA, “It’s Easy to ___ Here”
What, defecate on a rabbit? Lose your pencil collection? Leaves too many openings for a joke. Also, Philadelphia should ask the Roots, Hall & Oates and the Hooters to team up and re-do that soundtrack.
SAN DIEGO, “Happy Happens”
It feels worse to say aloud than to see, but considering San Diego’s $8 million tourism campaign is targeting sunny Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas and San Jose, why not “Our Sun Could Beat Up Your Sun”? Or follow Will Ferrell’s Anchor Man to “Pleasure Town” on the back of a unicorn? At least have a photo where a kid’s not being knocked in the back of the head with a surfboard as LSD flowers look on.
TOLEDO, “Do Toledo”
Don’t they know what that did for Dallas?
Any questionable ones I missed?
At some point in the future, I’ll tackle questionable state tourism slogans.