By Mark Okrant, NH Travel Guru
Selecting a slogan to represent a destination or state’s brand is one part art, and another part science. It necessitates a keen understanding of one’s travel market (the science), and the ability to wordsmith (the art).
Several weeks ago, this column looked at the brief slogans that states print on license plates. We reminded our readers that, in effect, these are mobile billboards designed to attract the attention of people traveling at speeds in excess of sixty miles per hour.
For its promotions, the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development uses a takeoff on the John Stark pronouncement, “Live Free or Die.” The state will license, or otherwise permit, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and attractions to promote themselves using the tagline, “Live Free and_______.” For example, my slogan might be, Live Free and Write for InDepthNH.org.
Recently, your guru happened upon an interesting piece by Ronan J. O’Shea, writing for the Indy/Go Newsletter. The article was titled, “Are These the World’s Most Bizarre Tourist Board Slogans?” Naturally, I was hooked. Having perused O’Shea’s story, here are several of my favorites.
“El Salvador: The 45-Minute Country”— O’Shea praised the local tourism board for its honesty. For those of you who are unfamiliar with El Salvador’s history, I recommend you consult the lyrics of a 1982 Peter, Paul, and Mary song by the same name. El Salvador is a place to be avoided. The only issue I take is why such a country would design a slogan in the first place. No person of sound judgment is likely to visit.
“Uganda: You’re Welcome—this is a real head scratcher. Unless the word itself meant “thank you,” the phrasing makes no sense [Note: “Uganda” means ‘to take a peek’]. All in all, what may have been intended as an inviting slogan, simply doesn’t work.
The standout from O’Shea’s list comes from the Republic of China (Taiwan) Tourism Bureau— “Taiwan: The Heart of Asia,” may have been intended to be welcoming. However, its complete lack of geographic accuracy is off-putting. It must be noted that Taipei, the country’s capital and largest city is situated more than 2300 miles southeast of Kyzyl, Russia. Kyzyl, by the way, is located at the actual geographic center of Asia. So, once again, we find ourselves vexed about the intentions of a national tourism board.
All of this brings us back to the tourism slogan presently used by the State of New Hampshire. I’m very interested in receiving some feedback from InDepthNH readers. Do you like this slogan? If not, here’s your opportunity to offer a substitute for it.
Let’s set the mood by doing a practice round, using the state’s Lakes Region as an example. As far as your Guru knows, there is no special slogan used by the Lakes presently. However, we know that it is centrally located, possesses beautiful warm water lakes and beaches, and is one of the state’s three tax-fee shopping meccas. Now, remembering that a slogan must limit itself to 3 to 6 words, what should the Lakes Region’s tourism catchphrase be?
Wracking my brain, I’ve come up with, “Beaches and lakes, plus shopping breaks.” I know—it’s not very good—but at least it rhymes.
So, now it’s your turn. What would you use as a slogan for attracting visitors to New Hampshire? Once the NH Travel Guru column appears this Sunday at InDepthnh.org, I am going to repost it, and will invite my Facebook friends/followers to engage in this fun activity. To stimulate participation, I’ll offer a signed copy of my new book, “Two If By Sea,” to the entry that is judged most worthy by our panel. Try it; you’ll have nothing to lose.
Send suggestions to me at email@example.com.
After forty years as an educator, researcher, and consultant, Mark Okrant joins IndepthNH.org to offer concise, informative insight into New Hampshire’s travel and tourism industry as a business, while showcasing the people and places you want to know. This guy’s really been around. And, he’s funny, too.
For more about Mark’s compelling tourism-based murder mystery series, visit www.markokrant.com.
For information on current things to do in New Hampshire, go to: http://www.visitnh.gov/what-to-do/event-calendar.aspx