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!


 

 
 
 
 

Everybody hates the Midlands, and other lessons from YouGov’s latest spurious polling

Dorset, which people like, for some reason. Image: Getty.

Just because you’re paranoid, the old joke runs, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. By the same token: just because I’m an egomaniac, doesn’t mean that YouGov isn’t commissioning polls of upwards of 50,000 people aimed at me, personally.

Seriously, that particular pollster has form for this: almost exactly a year ago, it published the results of a poll about London’s tube network that I’m about 98 per cent certain* was inspired by an argument Stephen Bush and I had been having on Twitter, at least partly on the grounds that it was the sort of thing that muggins here would almost certainly write up. 

And, I did write it up – or, to put it another way, I fell for it. So when, 364 days later, the same pollster produces not one but two polls, ranking Britain’s cities and counties respectively, it’s hard to escape the suspicion that CityMetric and YouGuv are now locked in a co-dependent and potentially abusive relationship.

But never mind that now. What do the polls tell us?

Let’s start with the counties

Everybody loves the West Country

YouGov invited 42,000 people to tell it whether or not they liked England’s 47 ceremonial counties for some reason. The top five, which got good reviews from between 86 and 92 per cent of respondents, were, in order: Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, North Yorkshire and Somerset. That’s England’s four most south westerly counties. And North Yorkshire.

So: almost everyone likes the South West, though whether this is because they associate it with summer holidays or cider or what, the data doesn’t say. Perhaps, given the inclusion of North Yorkshire, people just like countryside. That would seem to be supported by the fact that...


Nobody really likes the metropolitan counties

Greater London was stitched together in 1965. Nine years later, more new counties were created to cover the metropolitan areas of Manchester, Liverpool (Merseyside), Birmingham (the West Midlands), Newcastle (Tyne&Wear), Leeds (West Yorkshire and Sheffield (South Yorkshire). Actually, there were also new counties covering Teesside (Cleveland) and Bristol/Bath (Avon), too, but those have since been scrapped, so let’s ignore them.

Not all of those seven counties still exist in any meaningful governmental sense – but they’re still there for ’ceremonial purposes’, whatever that means. And we now know, thanks to this poll, that – to the first approximation – nobody much likes any of them. The only one to make it into the top half of the ranking is West Yorkshire, which comes 12th (75 per cent approval); South Yorkshire (66 per cent) is next, at 27th. Both of those, it may be significant, have the name of a historic county in their name.

The ones without an ancient identity to fall back on are all clustered near the bottom. Tyne & Wear is 30th out of 47 (64 per cent), Greater London 38th (58 per cent), Merseyside 41st (55 per cent), Greater Manchester 42nd (53 per cent)... Not even half of people like the West Midlands (49 per cent, placing it 44th out of 47). Although it seems to suffer also from the fact that...

Everybody hates the Midlands

Honestly, look at that map:

 

Click to expand.

The three bottom rated counties, are all Midlands ones: Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Bedfordshire – which, hilariously, with just 40 per cent approval, is a full seven points behind its nearest rival, the single biggest drop on the entire table.

What the hell did Bedfordshire ever do to you, England? Honestly, it makes Essex’s 50 per cent approval rate look pretty cheery.

While we’re talking about irrational differences:

There’s trouble brewing in Sussex

West Sussex ranks 21st, with a 71 per cent approval rating. But East Sussex is 29th, at just 65 per cent.

Honestly, what the fuck? Does the existence of Brighton piss people off that much?

Actually, we know it doesn’t because thanks to YouGov we have polling.

No, Brighton does not piss people off that much

Click to expand.

A respectable 18th out of 57, with a 74 per cent approval rating. I guess it could be dragged up by how much everyone loves Hove, but it doesn’t seem that likely.

London is surprisingly popular

Considering how much of the national debate on these things is dedicated to slagging off the capital – and who can blame people, really, given the state of British politics – I’m a bit surprised that London is not only in the top half but the top third. It ranks 22nd, with an approval rating of 73 per cent, higher than any other major city except Edinburgh.

But what people really want is somewhere pretty with a castle or cathedral

Honestly, look at the top 10:

City % who like the city Rank
York 92% 1
Bath 89% 2
Edinburgh 88% 3
Chester 83% 4
Durham 81% 5
Salisbury 80% 6
Truro 80% 7
Canterbury 79% 8
Wells 79% 9
Cambridge 78% 10

These people don’t want cities, they want Christmas cards.

No really, everyone hates the Midlands

Birmingham is the worst-rated big city, coming 47th with an approval rating of just 40 per cent. Leicester, Coventry and Wolverhampton fare even worse.

What did the Midlands ever do to you, Britain?

The least popular city is Bradford, which shows that people are awful

An approval rating of just 23 per cent. Given that Bradford is lovely, and has the best curries in Britain, I’m going to assume that

a) a lot of people haven’t been there, and

b) a lot of people have dodgy views on race relations.

Official city status is stupid

This isn’t something I learned from the polls exactly, but... Ripon? Ely? St David’s? Wells? These aren’t cities, they’re villages with ideas above their station.

By the same token, some places that very obviously should be cities are nowhere to be seen. Reading and Huddersfield are conspicuous by their absence. Middlesbrough and Teesside are nowhere to be seen.

I’ve ranted about this before – honestly, I don’t care if it’s how the queen likes it, it’s stupid. But what really bugs me is that YouGov haven’t even ranked all the official cities. Where’s Chelmsford, the county town of Essex, which attained the dignity of official city status in 2012? Or Perth, which managed at the same time? Or St Asaph, a Welsh village of 3,355 people? Did St Asaph mean nothing to you, YouGov?

Jonn Elledge is the editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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*A YouGov employee I met in a pub later confirmed this, and I make a point of always believing things that people tell me in pubs.