Yo, Philly, write yourself a slogan

Posted: May 12, 2014

The readers and I appear to be in agreement.

That is, we are equally underwhelmed with Philadelphia's efforts to promote itself.

As I noted in a recent column, our region has two slogans: One lousy, the other meh. They are so underwhelming that many people, myself included, forget them. Which is probably not the goal.

But here's what I learned since writing that column. There are plenty of million-dollar ideas out there. And they don't have to come from tourism officials with million-dollar budgets. More on those ideas in a moment.

Of the current slogans, the lousy one is the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau's "PHL: Here for the Making." PHL means precisely one thing, the airport, which makes almost no one happy. I still haven't a clue what "Here for the Making" means, a dismal pun that should have never left the brainstorming session.

VisitPhiladelphia's slogan is "With Love, Philadelphia, xoxo."

Yes, doesn't do much for me, either. This is not a kissy kind of place.

Philadelphia shouldn't have two competing slogans, or support two tourism agencies, each with a $12 million annual budget funded through the hotel tax.

The duplication is another product of the city's pattern of avoiding tough decisions by reaching a tepid compromise that costs people more money. That money could be put to far better use - like cleaning up Market East near the troubled Convention Center, troubled a permanent part of its name.

Folks, as a politician might intone, we can do so much better. And we should. It's time, once again, for the people to decide.

More than two decades ago, the Philadelphia Daily News sponsored a slogan contest. The winners were "Enjoy Our Past; Experience Our Future" and "Where Old and New Beckon," the latter by Florence Sasinowski's fourth graders at Christ the King School in the Northeast. Both slogans were embraced by then-Mayor Ed Rendell and the city and were used at the airport where, wisely, nobody thought to promote the city with "PHL." Among the jettisoned entries were "Philadelphia: Lock and Load," "Grab a Rat and Name It," and my favorite, "What Took You So Long?"

Sasinowski, now retired, wrote of the current campaigns, "Don't you think that the schoolchildren of Philadelphia could do a better job than the two companies currently vying for a winning slogan?" Clearly. After my last column on the slogans appeared, readers sent many suggestions, almost all marked improvements.

Don DeMarco offered, "ATTYTUDE! With or Without," though perhaps it should be "wit or witout."

Former Inquirer writer Rick Nichols submitted a bouquet of catchphrases, including "Philadelphia: Not New York. But a lot bigger than Wilmington." Or "Philadelphia: Who You Lookin' At?" More? "Philadelphia: Cracked, but in a Good Way." And, another dollop of attitude, "Philly: It's Real. You Got a Problem With That?"

Actually, Rick, I have no problem with that.

Perhaps the new axiom could be draped around municipal properties, a library, or trash truck, now that Darrell Clarke's two-year campaign to turn city properties into billboards has been approved. One day, I fully expect the ad-advocating Council president to enter City Hall blanketed with enough brand patches to rival a NASCAR racer.

Reader Robert Kapusta suggested "I'm in a Philly Mood," from Daryl Hall's 1993 song of the same title. Brendan Hickey opted for the soul of simplicity: "Yo, Philly."

Doug Phinney offered "the nation was born here, which makes Philly - drumroll, please - 'America's Hometown.' " Lovely, a winner.

Readers, it's up to you to improve our lot. Or that of South Jersey ("Same State, Fewer People") or a specific area ("Chester County: Wyeth Not?").

Submit your ideas to kheller@phillynews.com. As I mentioned earlier, we could do better and, most likely, not much worse.


215-854-2586 @kheller

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