Whether it’s to boost tourism or to help create a general sense of civic pride, it’s important for a city to be more than a city: it should become A Brand. And as a brand, it needs a slogan! Unfortunately, lots of cities have traditionally been extremely bad at this for any number of reasons: here are some our favourite bad and/or baffling attempts at sloganeering:
“It’s a location, not a vocation!”
Necessity became the mother of invention when the unfortunately-named city of Hooker, Oklahoma was picking a motto. The town takes its name from a ranchman named John “Hooker” Threlkeld, despite the fact that Hooker wasn’t even what he was actually called – it was a either a nickname based on him having to ‘hook’ cows with a rope, or something to do with a resemblance to a civil war general. Still, what a legacy.
Edinburgh apparently paid someone £300,000 to come up with this slogan and associated logo, which resulted in the resignation of the CEO of Edinburgh’s dedicated marketing organisation. It was then replaced with Winterinedinburgh and Goaheadinburgh, which are of course, much better.
“Have the Tyne of your Life”
Newcastle, go and have a long hard think about what you’ve done.
“Say nice things about Detroit”
This slogan was born when Emily Gail, a Detroit local, was on holiday in Florida. She was so upset that people kept saying things like “Wow you must be really happy to be anywhere that isn’t Detroit!” that she paid for a banner to be displayed reading “Hi, Detroiters. Enjoy Florida. Say nice things about Detroit. Emily.” History doesn’t record whether people did it.
“Hong Kong will take your breath away.”
A 2003 Hong Kong tourist campaign unfortunately coincided with a breakout of everyone’s favourite respiratory disease, Sars.
“Where the trout leap in main street”
Saratoga, Wyoming was originally “Where fish jump”, but gained this more… evocative name when a journalist described it as such in 1927. Disappointingly, as far as we can tell they don’t leap actually the street, unless it floods. They mostly just leap in the river near the street.
“The Biarritz of Wales”
This unlikely nickname for Aberystwyth apparently originated as a Victorian tourism campaign. It is true that they are both places by the sea.
‘Aberystwyth, The Biarritz of Wales!’ (1895) Time for @visitwales to resurrect this Victorian campaign, I reckon! pic.twitter.com/j04bEHM1lg
— Bob Nicholson (@DigiVictorian) August 21, 2013
“Pacemaker of the ’70s”
You wouldn’t have thought it was possible to generate slogan more naff than the notorious “It’s never dull in Hull!”, and yet. This was the result of a 1971 newspaper competition to find a new slogan for the same city, and managed to win despite making the city sound like it has a serious heart condition.
“En promille kan inte ha fel!” (Translation: A thousandth of the population can’t be wrong.)
Vingåker, Sweden has a weirdly literal mathematical slogan about its population, which is presumably some sort of elaborate Swedish joke – TheLocal.se seem to think it could be some sort of pro-drink driving statement because “promille” is also the Swedesh term for blood alcohol level measurements.
“City of Cheese, Chairs, Children and Churches”
Sheboygan, Wisconsin cannot make its mind up.
“Weed like to welcome you”
The slogan of Weed, California. Obviously. It’s named after Abner Weed, a 19th century lumber mill owner. Stop sniggering at the back.
“DerbYes! The city where you can”
Image: from the long since the defunct DerbYes website.
Hey, Derby! More like: DerbNo!
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