When we asked readers and friends on Facebook and Twitter to help us find the goofiest city slogans, nicknames, and rebranding campaigns ever, we had no idea what we were getting into. Really. Turns out this country is CHOCK FULL of marketing consultants who don’t have the foggiest clue what they’re doing — and cities love to hire these people!
It’s no wonder Americans have been high-tailing it for the ’burbs for decades: Cities seem to never fail to find fresh ways to look like doofuses.
But in this regard, as in others, all cities are not created equal. When he heard about our quest for crappy slogans, Aaron Naparstek responded simply, “You’ll find what you’re looking for in Cleveland.” And so to Cleveland we went.
There’s this winner, shared by John Tolva: “You’ve got Cleveland. What more do you need?” Hmmm. There is a certain risk to asking questions like that. You might end up eating your words later, when you decide that, in fact, Cleveland isn’t enough all by itself, and what you really need is ClevelandPlus!
Besides, what more does Cleveland need, when it has Cleveland Rocks!
(And just ‘cause we can’t resist ribbing Cleveland just a little more, here’s a great piece from the Scene called, “Why Does Every Cleveland Sports Slogan Have to Be So Jesus-y?”)
But listen. We’re not just here to bust on the Mistake on the Lake. You’ll recall that the story that inspired all this was about how utterly and grittily cool Cleveland is. No, America’s North Coast has no monopoly on milquetoast marketing campaigns. Consider this finger-snappin’ video from our friends in Buffalo, N.Y., care of reader Ross Hammond. Be warned, though — it runs for more than FOUR MINUTES!
Gaaaaaah! Make it stop!
Baltimore, too, seems to be a tad tone deaf when it comes to singing its self-praises. Anne Chenot reminded us that it was briefly “The City that Reads,” which locals quickly remixed to read, “the city that breeds” (a reference to its high teen pregnancy rates) and “the city that bleeds” (see: The Wire). Also known as Mobtown and Charm City, Baltimore later coined the slogan “BELIEVE,” which also spawned many a spin-off. My personal favorite: “PRETEND.”
And the list goes from there. The branding maestros at Great Destinations compiled a list of the top 50 U.S. city slogans, ranging from the businesslike (Havre, Mont.: “Get ‘er Done”) to the bizarre (Prairie du Chien, Wis.: “Where the Bald Eagle Soars and the Carp Drops.” Wha?) Their favorite: Las Vegas, “Whatever happens here, stays here.” All right, but we’ll take “Keep Austin Weird” any day. (And OK, Portland can stay weird, too.)
Great Destinations’ list of top city nicknames includes a few you’ve no doubt heard before: The Big Easy (New Orleans), Motor City (Detroit), Beantown (Boston), Tinseltown (Hollywood), La-La Land (L.A.), Berzerkely (give you one guess). You may not know, however, where to find the Home of Susie the Duck (Lodi, Wis.), the Goat Ropin’ Capital of the World (Gotebo, Okla.) or — whee! — the Drunk Driving Capital of America (Gallup, N.M.).
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