City life is tough these days. If it isn't the crime it's the schools. If it isn't a garbage strike it's the chronically late buses.
So, faced with a looming recession and citizen antipathy to ponying up for anything preceded by the word "public," what's a hoping-to-be-reelected mayor to do?
You got it. Time for a new city slogan!
Exhibit A comes from Minnesota, whence Steve Berg of MinnPost.com reports on a local dilemma:
If we're from Hopkins and we're traveling and someone asks where we're from, there's an awkward pause. Do we say Hopkins, Minnesota, and then launch into an explanation? Do we say Minneapolis? The Twin Cities? The Seven-County Mosquito Control District? Or do we get vague and just say Minnesota? Our answers tend to vary. But if we aren't quite sure what to call this place, then how can others be sure? And that raises the ultimate existential marketing question: Are we really here?
Apparently we are. Two mayors and three influential public relations executives held a press conference Tuesday to affirm our existence and to announce that there's "more to life in Minneapolis Saint Paul."
Does that last phrase appear to contain a typo? Are you used to seeing it spelled "Minneapolis-St. Paul," with an abbreviation and a hyphen? Better get with the Brand New Program, my friend. Mr. Berg explains, apparently in earnest:
Removing the hyphen suggests a singular place and a stronger brand. "More to life" is meant to promote our greatest asset: you can do more quality things here with less hassle than anywhere else.
Hear that, Coca-Cola and Rolls-Royce? It's those divisive hyphens that have been keeping you from becoming strong, singular brands.
And spelling out "Saint"? Not the way I'm used to seeing it, but I've never been to Minnesota. Seeing as there's no explanation, feel free to make one up. Perhaps the smaller Twin City wants to promote its godliness.
As for "More to Life," it looks and sounds awkward to me without "There's..." in front. I'm betting it gets mis-heard as "More to Like." Or maybe "to life" is now a verb, and I just haven't gotten the memo.
Speaking of betting, here's Exhibit B, from a Jan. 7 Wall St. Journal article (probably behind a paywall until full Murdoch-ization; send me an e-mail if you'd like a guest login):
By now, most Americans are familiar with the Las Vegas mantra "What Happens Here Stays Here." The marketing campaign, launched in 2003, became something of a cultural phenomenon that helped lift the number of visitors to the city to nearly 39 million people in 2006 from 35 million in 2002.
Now, the gambling mecca's marketers are attempting to mess with their own success. Next week, Las Vegas will unveil a new catch phrase and marketing campaign -- titled "Your Vegas Is Showing" -- that confronts a new reality: Las Vegas needs more tourists.
Raise your hand if the first thing you thought of when you read that slogan was the classic fourth-grade witticism, "Your epidermis is showing!" (In Las Vegas, that slogan would also work.)
The new campaign is meant to complement, not replace, the much-better-known "What Happens Here Stays Here" ads, which launched in 2003. "Your Las Vegas" is aimed at a slightly different audience, according to the WSJ's Tamara Audi:
Research has long shown that people behave differently in Vegas, allowing themselves the money and permission to do things they would never do at home, marketers say.
But "people also consume differently" when they come to Las Vegas, says Billy Vassiliadis, chief executive of R&R Partners, which developed the new campaign as well as the "What Happens Here" ads. "It is the case that a very fixed-budget young couple from Des Moines may buy a Prada scarf in Vegas. They won't do it anywhere else, but they'll do it in Vegas."
One of the spots, "Alibi," has already spawned a parody.
The best city slogan of all belongs not to a city but to the District of Columbia. Hats off to former Mayor Anthony A. Williams, who in 2000 coined "Taxation Without Representation." Unlike the official slogan, "The American Experience" (bo-ring), Williams's justifiable dig actually appears on District license plates.
(Hat tip to Our Bold Hero for the Mpls-St. Paul story.)