We live in branded world, and unless we choose to remove ourselves to a cave on Wellington’s rocky coastline, as one chap has done, it’s hard to avoid absorbing its messages.
These days even local councils have got in on the act, and the brand-free town or city is a rare one. I’ve been thoroughly diverted by the range of regional slogans I’ve come across when writing an entry on city boosters and promoters for Te Ara’s Economy, Business and City Life theme (due to go live in late 2009).
Cooked up by advertising types, these slogans can reveal a lot about a place’s sense of itself, though not always in the way the creators intended.
There are many choice examples to choose from. My favourite from the mixed-messages category is Dunedin’s old slogan ‘It’s all right here’ – fairly presentable when read correctly, but too vulnerable to the alternative interpretation, ‘It’s alright here’.
A close second is Hamilton’s discarded tag ‘More than you’d expect’, which went out of its way to highlight the low expectations the rest of the nation seems have about this city. Hamilton provides a case study on how not to brand a city, but you’ll have to read the entry for more on that.
Some slogans are just plain weird, and you have to wonder what kind of refreshments their creators were enjoying during the brainstorming session. Timaru was inflicted with ‘Touch, taste, feel’ for a couple of years, and this has now been replaced by ‘Feel the heartbeat’. Timaru must be a tactile kind of place.
And how about ‘Stop and taste Te Puke’? This slogan made it into Lonely Planet’s Signspotting 2, and in their ignorance (or perhaps on purpose) the authors of this book mistook the Bay of Plenty town’s name for the colloquial version of vomit. With a slogan like that who can blame them?
It’s a perilous business coming up with a slogan, and I’m surprised more councils haven’t chosen to steer clear of them, as Hamilton recently has. Still, they have provided this researcher with a great deal of entertainment. I’ll leave you with a few more crackers, past and present.
Dannevirke: ‘Take a liking to a Viking’
Mayfield (near Ashburton): ‘Blink and you will miss out’
Matamata: ‘You matter in Matamata’