$2500 -- hmmm. If Paulsen Marketing offers us something like Madison's current slogan -- "In Touch with the World" -- that will break down to $500 a word. Wow. If I were being aid for these words, I'd happily settle for one ten-thousandth that rate.
Again, the City Commission is ignoring or completely discounting the intelligence and creativity of the local community. They could pay me $20 an hour to sit in a room for an evening and think up slogans. They could select a group of community members -- a business owner, a manufacturing worker, a farmer, someone who works in advertising at MDL or KJAM, an English teacher, and an artist -- to sit around one evening and brainstorm suggestions for the board's approval (six people, $20 an hour, three hours -- $360, easily saving over $2000 and keeping that small outlay in the community). The city could have a contest for community members to submit their suggestions and give a whopping prize to the best slogan. They could do all sorts of things that would save money. But instead we hire a marketing firm from Sioux Falls to come up with a slogan that will be no less dopey than anything we would think of locally.
Is a town slogan really worth even that much investment? Can Paulsen Marketing or any other entity show the data that proves slogans bring anything to a town other than wry chuckles and sarcastic one-liners? I've heard Madison's current slogan (currently emblazoned on rather expensive welcome signs, which I expect will have to be torn down and replaced by even more expensive signs) ridiculed by friends and neighbors and parodied publicly in a graduation speech. Watertown's "City on the Go" slogan always provides my wife and I cause for mirth when we drive through, but it has yet to draw us there to shop by its own rhetorical force. Nearby Hartford's economic growth over the past few years has had little to nothing to do with its faintly sappy slogan "A Place to Call Home" (imagine a new resident pointing to the billboard: "I read that, my heart swelled, and I knew I had to move here") and more to do with Sioux Falls simply getting too darn big.
I'm not sure what line Paulsen marketing has been feeding our city commissioners (or, perhaps more likely, who on the City Commission has a sister-in-law who has a friend at Paulsen who appreciates our business). But our city commission seems committed to the idea that we Madisonites just aren't smart enough to come up with our own solutions to problems, that we have to have smarter people from bigger towns tell us how to reform our backwards ways and move into the glorious future.
Just for the record, here are my suggestions for a town slogan, brainstormed up in all of 5 minutes quick thinking over a couple bowls of cereal before work:
- Jewel of the Prairie
- Like No Place on Earth
- Catch the Waves
- The Sunshine City
- It All Starts Here
- Launch Pad to the Future
- God's Country (should get the evangelical dollar)
- Onward Christian Soldiers
- Smarter than you think
- No F---ing Hurricanes
- Spend your money here!
- Beautiful Lakes, Beautiful Signs
- Coldest Beer in the State
- Free Beer!
- Arts, Science, Waterskiing
- O, Pioneers! (need to contact the Willa Cather estate for permission)