Maybe we’re spoiled here in Virginia, because “Virginia is for Lovers” is America’s best-known tourism slogan (and one of the best known in the world) and we’ve been happy with it for going on 43 years now.
Residents of the Empire State can take pride in “I Love New York,” while visitors to Las Vegas find relief and reassurance knowing that “What happens here, stays here.”
Other localities aren’t so lucky.
Two years ago, Richmond’s “Easy to Love” slogan – an attempt to play off the Virginia line – caused lots of head-scratching with its vagueness. Compared to other tourism lines, though, that’s a very minor problem.
Richmond got off easy
In 2009, a year after adopting “Originality Rules” as Wisconsin’s official tourism slogan, then-Governor Jim Doyle spent $50,000 in tax money to develop an official replacement. This provoked literally hundreds of angry letters to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel – not just about the new slogan’s cost, but about the slogan itself: “Live Like You Mean It.” (One critique suggested a St. Patrick’s day version – “Drink Like You Mean It.”)
The state’s been very fickle about slogans, by the way, having adopted, then discarded “Escape to Wisconsin,” “Wisconsin — You’re Among Friends” and “Life’s So Good.”
Waussau, in central Wisconsin, tries to attract tourists on their way to the north woods to stop off for skiing and winter sports with “This is as Up North as you need to be.” That doesn’t sit too well with neighboring towns to the north, as you might expect.
In nearby Minnesota,
- The town of Prairie du Chien uses “Where the Eagle Soars and the Carp Drops” to promote tourism. Look out below!
- Quarry town St. Cloud has tried both “Stop & Smell the Granite” and “Memories 4 billion years in the making!”
- Two Harbors, on the Lake Superior shore, touts its claim to fame – taconite ore shipping – with “Watch Great Ladies Get Loaded.”
- Not to be outdone, in 2006 Rochester hired a Milwaukee ad agency to come up with a slogan based on hip, catchy slang – right out of the 1920s: “Rah Rah Rochester: More Than You Know.”
But these are sheer poetry compared to some tourism lines from elsewhere in the world, most of them written by English-speaking advertising professionals who should know better.
The city of Edinburgh, Scotland, invested £300,000 in having an organization called Marketing Edinburgh create a coordinated campaign with the slogan “Incrediburgh.”
This would produce a “brave, new look for Edinburgh that’s modern, magical and celebrates everything that’s extraordinary about the city,” according to spokeswoman Lucy Bird. “We look forward to launching our winter marketing in a few weeks’ time,” she added.
But not if former city council leader Jenny Dawe has anything to say about it. On September 17, Dawe questioned the need for a slogan at all and pronounced Incrediburgh “absolutely appalling.”
“You don’t need silly slogans to market Edinburgh,” she declared. “They don’t sound worth using at all, and they make me shudder.” (Where was she £300,000 ago?)
Newspaper Scotland on Sunday may not have been shuddering, but they didn’t like the line either, suggesting alternative slogans, including ‘Welfedinburgh” and “Paintthetownredinburgh.”
Lost in the translation?
Scotland doesn’t have a monopoly on lame lines.
- A plucky Croydon, England, tour guide came up with the slogan, “Croydon: Britain’s most interesting town.” Maybe, but it’s no Incrediburgh.
- Hong Kong attempted to lure tourists with “It will take your breath away.” Between the industrial-strength air pollution mainland China is notorious for and a SARS outbreak coincident with the campaign’s launch, that may be literally true.
- Australia’s travel advertising asks, “So where the bloody hell are you?” Maybe in Hong Kong, trying to get my breath back.
- Indonesia is billing itself as “Just a smile away.” A smile and a 32-hour flight from Los Angeles, that is. Nonstop.
- Wales, not to be confused with a movie of the same title, is calling itself “The Big Country,” which is kind of funny when you consider that with 8,023 square miles Wales occupies all of 3% of Great Britain.
- Israel, which is four square miles smaller than Wales, is advertising that “Size isn’t everything.”
- Colombia says, “The only risk is wanting to stay.” Unless you count the drug cartels’ kidnappers and Sicarii assassins and the FARC guerillas.
- Panama promises “It will never leave you.” Unlike your faithless girl, wife and former best friends forever.
- In the 1980s, British Rail, newly privatized and working to recover from the decades-long ravages of nationalization, advertised “We’re getting there.” This begs the question of whether they’ll actually arrive.
- Austria, apparently targeting its tourism advertising to travelers who’d already responded to it, tells them, “You’ve arrived.” Obviously not by British Rail, which is still getting there.
- Slovenia came up with a line that looks clever when you see its type treatment – “I FEEL SLOVENIA” – but sounds either symptomatic or smutty when you can’t.
By comparison, these are almost enough to make “Easy to Love” lots easier to love. Or at least like.