Government Spending

New Frontiers in Government Spending: Rebranding

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The government of Galveston, Texas, paid a marketing firm $86,000 to think up ways to increase tourism. The results:

Instead of just "Galveston," this historic city should be called "City of Galveston Island," a firm hired to suggest ways to increase tourism has suggested….

The firm says adding the word "Island" to Galveston would broaden the appeal of the area.

I'm a little jealous of my Galvestonian parents. Their city paid just $86,000 for that crappy idea, and it came bundled with some half-decent notions, such as improving signage and beautifying the seawall. In my corner of the country, by contrast, the quasi-public Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association spent $500,000 for a new slogan. The winning phrase: "Get in on it!" (That's $125,000 a word. Someone has one hell of a good agent.)

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  1. I guess, “Galveston: The water is brown and the island is smelly” just wasn’t a very good slogan.

  2. Seattle’s new “MetroNatural” slogan has Galveston and Baltimore beat for sheer stupidity if not outright cost.

    http://www.metronatural.com/
    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/289518_metronatural21.html

  3. That does remind me of Houston’s slogan (cost: unknown) to attract the Olympics in the early 90s: “Houston’s HOT!” (the obvious answer from long time residents was either “No Shit!” or “And It’s Humid, Too!”).

  4. Baltimore: Get Up In It.

  5. I was always partial to, “what goes on in Galveston stays in Galveston. Unless you tell someone, then it won’t. Which you will because it totally Rocked!!! And Corpus Christi can suck it.”

  6. Now cue someone to pop up, point out that private companies sometimes spend ridiculous amounts of money for lame slogans, and then cover his ears and go, “LA LA LA CAN’T HEAR YOU” when other people point out the distinction between public and private funding of stupidity.

  7. Man, Eric. You really put that fictional commenter in their place. Before they even had a chance to make the dumb argument you debunked it!

  8. “The winning phrase: “Get in on it!””

    Kind of an appropriate slogan for a city fondly known as “Crackmore”.

  9. We here in Austin created our own slogan, “Keep Austin Weird.” Thanks to the creativity of its citizens, the city has been able to save a couple hundred grand on advertising and spend it on building the ugliest city hall in the history of municipal government. Kinda makes me envy Galveston.

  10. I always thought that Baltimore’s slogan was “We keep penicillin manufacturers profitable.”

  11. Here in Georgetown, TX the city spent $250,000 on a new logo. They got the letter G – now affectionately known as the g spot.

    Visit Georgetown

  12. Ya know…I’d go to Galveston more often if they tore down that damnable toll booth. It’s been up for at elast 10 years, and covers a bridge that is probably a quarter of a mile long. eff paying 4 bucks just to go to that crappy island.

    BTW, I live in Clute, which means toll booth =shortest way.

  13. Karen: Portland, OR often uses the same slogan. And, I have to say, that both are pretty weird. I love both, though. As far as cities in Texas go Austin is pretty cool, I wish I lived there instead of San Antonio. San Antonio can suck it.

  14. Karen,

    I always thought “Keep Austin Weird” meant “don’t build any roads anywhere, so that we have worst traffic problem of any small city in America.”

  15. Timothy,

    Why does every one in Austin feel the need to dis on San Antonio? Austin can suck it. At least San Antonio doesn’t pretend to be something that it is not. Austin has to be the most overrated city in America. The traffic is horrible, the prices are outragous and ultimately it is an overgrown college town that got famous for a music scene that had seen its best days long before anyone outside of Texas knew about it. I like Austin. It does have its charms, but it is not San Fran or New York or a major city. Its just not that great.

  16. In my corner of the country, by contrast, the quasi-public Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association spent $500,000 for a new slogan. The winning phrase: “Get in on it!” (That’s $125,000 a word. Someone has one hell of a good agent.)

    You left off the asterisk ” *Not responsible for tourists who make a wrong turn leaving the Camden Yards/Inner Harbor area.”

  17. I have kindly offered to rebrand my fair city thusly and at no charge whatsoever: Sinincincinnati.
    Why are the pols unwilling to take me up on it?
    I envision a place where drugs, prostitution, and all vices would be legal, and the entire police department would be fired.
    Would Sinincincinnati attract tourists and residents then or what?

  18. Hey, down here in the “dirty south” we paid oodles of money for someone to tell us “Every day is Opening Day!” [link]

    Not only that, but we also got that great rip-off of the Coke logo! And did I mention the ghetto-fabulous “theme song”? Go ATL!

    I can’t find verification but I want to say it ran the taxpayers somewhere around 8 million. Couldn’t they have just licensed “We’re Grrrreat” from Kellog??

  19. The Colorado Department of Transportation blew $21,000 just to come up with a name for the massive upgrade they’re giving Interstate 25.

    COSMIX.

    Yep. That’s right. They blew 21 kilobucks to give a snappy but still dumb name to a construction zone.

  20. How about “Baltimore: better than Detroit because we have crabs (the good kind)!”

  21. “Marketing” is a subtle form of lying and while we have to endure it from the private sector it seems I do agree that our various governments should not engage in it.

  22. SR2,

    Having lived in the ATL, I always thought the city’s slogan should have been “Atlanta, where the homeless call home.”

  23. Man, Eric. You really put that fictional commenter in their place. Before they even had a chance to make the dumb argument you debunked it!

    No offense, but you prove yourself to be either really new here or the stymied “fictional commenter”. 😉

  24. karen,

    I took a look on a google web search. Austin’s city hall is downright pleasant next to Boston’s.

    I thought baltimore’s slogan was “B’live”

  25. There was a comedian once who did a bit about Oklahoma’s slogan, he decided that the three finalists were:

    1. Oklahoma is OK
    2. Oklahoma: Some people say we don’t suck
    3. Oklahoma: Trees are made of wood

  26. John: San Antonio’s traffic is better and the prices are more reasonable…but you have to drive an hour to Austin to see a decent concert. San Antonio is also full of garbage and has an awful, ugly, disgusting downtown (trust me, I know, I work in it). And Mark Cuban was right about the Riverwalk, it’s a piece of shit.

  27. MG: Don’t they already have a train called T-REX in Denver? That’s a better name.

  28. Atlanta doesn’t have a monopoly on homelessness. Harry Shearer has dubbed Santa Monica “The Home of the Homeless.”

  29. My personal favorite slogan screw-up was when the University of Texas paid a large amount for the slogan “We’re Texas”. Turns out the same ad agency had done a new slogan for Texas Tech as well. What was the slogan, you ask? “We’re Texas Tech”.

    Oh, and 12-7. Nyah.

  30. there’s a newspaper columnist here in StL that made a point about the city that i thought would make an appropriate slogan.

    StL: the only city to build a monument to people who had the gumption to move elsewhere.

  31. I like Albuquerque’s tourism slogan:

    “Albuquerque: It’s a Trip”

    Which is false advertising: Albuquerque is better known for meth than acid.

  32. “Keep Austin Weird By Slapping Stupid Bumperstickers On Your H3 and Drinking Lattes At One Of Our 953 Starbucks”

  33. My favorite bumpersticker:
    “Keep San Antonio Lame”
    Had me laughing for days.

  34. Austonian,

    That joke is actually on Austinites. Truth is San Antonio is kind of lame, but it is a nice city and a nice place to live. The last thing anyone in San Antonio would ever want would be for it to turn into a pretentous, overpriced, internet trash, yuppie hell that Austin is. Move to Austin, drive a Hummer for Peace man!!

  35. For the bargain price of $1,000 dollars, I offer this slogan to my hometown.
    “Wecome to Detroit. Take Cover!”

  36. “MG: Don’t they already have a train called T-REX in Denver? That’s a better name.”

    Tim-
    T-REX is the name Denver gave to their I-25 expansion. Since the population of CO has been growing pretty rapidly for the last few years, they found it necessary to expand the I-25 corridor from Denver to The Springs.

    RTD is Colorado’s name for their light rail system, iirc.

  37. Then there are the quixotic bumpers entreating people to “Make Dallas Weird”.

  38. Here in Georgetown, TX the city spent $250,000 on a new logo. They got the letter G – now affectionately known as the g spot.

    The G-Spot is weird enough, but if you follow that link, the full logo says “Sincerely Yours, Georgetown”. So are they trying to brand themselves as a slightly over-formal pen-pal?

  39. San Antonio: North of Mexico, South of Heaven

    Baltimore: Live Dangerously

    Los Angeles: You Can Taste the Air

    Washington DC: Crossroads of the National Capital Region

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