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How not to sell yourself: The Drum looks at some of the worst city slogans


By Gillian West, Social media manager

October 16, 2012 | 5 min read

As a new attempts to market Edinburgh as a tourist destination using an awkward pun fell flat, and plans to promote Suffolk as the “curious county” were met with fierce reaction from locals and MP’s. The Drum takes a look at some of the worst destination marketing the world has to offer…

Leeds: ‘Leeds. Live it Love it’

In 2005 Leeds launched its new ‘Leeds. Live it Love it’ slogan. Costing around £150,000 in research and launch costs the city was left red-faced when it was revealed Hong Kong tourist chiefs had used an identical slogan in 2003. At the time Tony Stanton, chief executive of An Agency Called England, who devised the slogan, said he had come up with the ‘Live it Love it’ idea completely independently and only in the process of due diligence did he find it had been used elsewhere.

Copenhagen: ‘Open for You’

Last year Copenhagen went down the pun route with its new brand identity ‘cOPENhagen – Open for You’. The new identity was meant to “attract tourists, expats and foreign investment as well as creating growth for the capital city.”

Nottinghamshire: ‘N’

Nottinghamshire came under fire when it unveiled its new identity ‘N’ in 2005. At a cost of £120,000 the new identity was described as “much more than a logo” but as "a way of presenting ourselves, creating a sense of place in promotion and on the streets. As such it relates both to the people who live and work here, as well as to our many visitors.” Locals responded by campaigning for the old “Our Style is Legendary” imaging to return.

Newcastle and Gateshead: ‘Have the Tyne of your Life’

This poorly executed pun was suggested to The Drum via Twitter from Dan Appleby (@Guerilla_Dan) who simply said: "'Have the Tyne of your Life.' True Story. #shitcityslogans"

Buffalo, USA: ‘Buffalo. For Real’

In 2011 New York State Buffalo allowed 70 volunteers from the community, ad agencies and members of the Visit Buffalo Niagara Group to devise a new identity. They came up with the slogan ‘Buffalo. For Real’ which quickly prompted a backlash from the local community and critics on social media sites. At the time Arun K. Jain chairman of the marketing department at the University of Buffalo, commented: “To me, it doesn't mean anything. I don't know what is 'real.' Is there 'unreal Buffalo’?”

Slovenia: ‘I feel sLOVEina

Like ‘cOPENhagen’ Slovenia decided to go down the pun route for its identity. In 2006, the Government Communication Office (UKOM) posted an anonymous competition for the design of a new logo and slogan for Slovenia. The winning idea ‘I feel sLOVEina’ was subsequently designed and developed in 2007. However, local reaction was not great with one Slovenian commenting in the local press: “This country has got to stop making the ‘safe’ decision every time. BORING!”

SPECIAL MENTION - Prestwick Airport: ‘Pure Dead Brilliant’

Seven years ago Prestwick chief, Steve Fitzpatrick, decided to adopt a new slogan for the airport, he promised something “fun and a little bit edgy” would be immortalised on the walls of the Ayrshire-based airport terminals. He gave us ‘Pure Dead Brilliant’. The Glaswegian colloquialism has since become the pet hate of locals and tourists alike and since 2005 thousands have signed online petitions and campaigned for bosses to change it, declaring it ‘Pure Dead Embarrassing’.

But it's not all bad - New York: ‘I Love New York’

'I Love New York’ – Since the mid-70’s ‘I Love New York’ has been the premier place branding advertising campaign. Used to promote New York City and New York State, the logo has become a pop culture icon. As of 2005 New York had filed over 3000 objections against imitators using its trademark.


'Iamsterdam’ – Iamsterdam was born in September 2004, described as a “motto and a brand all in one for both the people of Amsterdam and the city itself.” The new identity came equipped with all the extensions and accessories you would expect from a contemporary marketing campaign.

SPECIAL MENTION: Fruita: ‘WTF: Welcome to Fruita’

Not quite an official place branding exercise but likeable nonetheless. Born from a marketing drive for Steve and Denise Hight’s book on the history of Fruita, the couple distributed 500 stickers declaring: ‘WTF: Welcome to Fruita’, the stickers bearing the double-entendre, which plays on the acronym for ‘What the F***’ , were snapped up by businesses and residents alike and quickly became the city’s unofficial brand identity. Mr Hight said they never indented it to be an advertising campaign telling Grand Junction Sentinel, “It was meant to be a fun thing. It was just supposed to be a bit of fun, an extra toss-into-the-bag sort of thing for customers.”


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