12 of the worst slogans ever used to promote cities

Take that, soreheads. Image: public domain

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.

“Incredinburgh”

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.”

Image: DiscoverHongKong

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.

“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!


 

 
 
 
 

This app connects strangers in two cities across the world. But can it tackle urban loneliness?

New Delhi, in India, where many of Duet-App's users come from. Image: Ville Miettinen

“You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavour to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by millions of people”. Olivia Laing, The Lonely City

Our relationship to where we live and the spaces we inhabit define who we are and how we feel. But how often do we articulate the emotional impact of this relationship, whether this be loneliness, frustration or even civic pride?

“When I moved to a new city, started living alone, wanted to drink less, stay indoors more, and when I realised that I cannot make any more best friends.”

A new social network, a simple app that connects two individuals from the UK and India, aims to counter some of these issues.  Over the course of a year connected pairs receive one question a day through the app and their responses are exchanged with each other. A simple interaction that gradually builds a series of one-on-one relationships and invites users to imagine, over time, the other person living their life.

Distant geographies are an implicit part of the experience, therefore many of the questions nudge users to explore correlations between their physical and emotional landscapes. The data shows us that many of the Duet-App users are located in populous urban cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Manchester, Leeds and London, places that can just as often discourage feelings of belonging and place-making as much as they foster them.

“I had thought I'd never be able to live here again. but here I am living again at home after almost a decade living elsewhere. Living in Mumbai is a contact sport, and I can't do without it's chaos and infectious energy.”

Mumbai, India. Image: Deepak Gupta

In general cities are getting bigger and spreading wider at the same time as our communications are increasingly being conducted online and via digital gateways.

There is a sense that much of our online personas project an idealised version of ourselves; we increasingly document and express our daily lives through a filter and we are not always comfortable with a spontaneous expression of ourselves. Duet-App seeks to foster alternative digital relationships that through their anonymity allow us to be more honest and free.

“I feel a lot of people assume that I always have a lot going on for me and everything's always happy and amazing. I wish they could appreciate... how much of my own anxiety I swim in every single day. I appear and behave “normal” on the outside, calm and composed but there are always storms going on in my head.”

In exploring the responses to the questions so far, those that often garner the most replies relate directly to how we feel about our personal position in the world around us. Often these questions act as provocations not only to share responses but to reflect and articulate our thoughts around how we feel about what we are doing in the here and now.

Manchester, another popular city for Duet-App users. Image: Julius 

“Sometimes I feel sad about it [getting old] because I saw how easy it would be to feel lonely, and the fact that the world is set up for able-bodied young people is a bit of a travesty.”

Although many social media platforms allow for distant engagement and access into the lives of others we are in the main still curating and choosing our friendship circles. Through Duet-App this is randomised (and anonymised) with the intention of bypassing the traditional mechanics of how we broker online relationships. While directly exploring the digital space as a place for intimacy.


“Where do you go for peace?

“Well the internet, really. I do some mindless browsing, peek into the fandoms, listen to a few songs. Calms me down.”

Snapshots into the lives of someone existing and playing out their lives remotely can highlight shared concerns that break down preconceptions of how life is lived by others. Prompted by the reflections of a stranger exposed to our lives, digital relationships can encourage us to address the physical space we inhabit and the effects that the cities we live out our lives in have on our own well being. 

Catherine Baxendale is director of Invisible Flock.

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