Archive » July 26, 2007
n.o.t.e.s. from downtown
By Jim Alexander
“Where Summers Are So Sweltering Even Scandals Get Away”
Washington D.C. is looking for a new city slogan. Officials discovered that Las Vegas’s “What Happens In Vegas, Stays In Vegas” campaign helps attract 40 million visitors each year and, in typical Washington fashion, they want some of that gravy. They’re so desperate for a good slogan, D.C officials have opened up a contest to the public and ad agencies, and are willing to pay $150,000 to the winner. So, why not start there? Something like “Washington D.C., Our Slogan Only Cost Taxpayers $150,000!”
Washington D.C. was once a tourist Mecca, but times have changed. Now D.C. is to tourism what ketchup is to pudding. Apparently, Washington D.C., with its Smithsonian, Presidential monuments, and National Gallery, can’t compete with Las Vegas’ kitschy culture, Wayne Newton, and 99-cent shrimp cocktails. Rather than fight that fact, I say go with it. Something like “Washington D.C., It’s Vegas Without The Gambling, The Buffets, The Fun!” Or, “D.C., Who Needs Siegfried and Roy? We Have Hillary and Newt!” Or, from my friend Anne Lowenkopf, “Washington D.C., Where You Only Lose When You Go To The Polls.”
D.C. could follow the lead of other cities. New York is known as “The Big Apple.” Why not call Washington D.C., “The Rotten Apple?” Instead of New Orleans’ “The Big Easy,” Washington could be “The Big Sleazy.” Boston is “Bean town”; D.C could be “Pork & Bean town.”
They like Las Vegas’s slogan so much, why not run with it and throw in a little French for class: “Washington D.C., What Happens Here, Cost Taxpayers Beaucoup!”
I hope Mayor Blum and the city council read this column and decide to offer $150,000 for a new Santa Barbara slogan. If so, I have a wing-dinger. “Santa Barbara, Where Being A Millionaire Will Get You A Table At Sizzler, With A View Of The Frozen Yogurt Machine.”
I already have my own “personal” slogan that will soon be sold at the more prestigious establishments in Santa Barbara and Montecito. Picture my mug on a T-shirt with the following saying: “Jim Alexander, Brain by BubbleUp, Body By Krispy Kreme.”
D.C. isn’t only after domestic vacationers, city fathers also want foreign tourists. You have to be careful with slogans overseas. In China, “Coca-Cola” translated to “Ko-ka-ko-la,” which meant “bite the wax tadpole.”
In Taiwan, Pepsi’s slogan, “Come Alive With the Pepsi Generation” translated in Taiwanese to “Pepsi Will Bring Your Ancestors Back From The Dead.”
When General Motors introduced the Chevy Nova to South America they couldn’t sell many cars. Finally, they realized that “no va” means “it won’t go.”
Also in China, KFC’s slogan “Finger Lickin’ Good,” translated to, “Eat Your Fingers Off.”
Washington D.C.’s current slogan, “D.C., The American Experience,” has a translation problem here at home. For many Americans, it translates to “credit card debt, no medical insurance, and Paris Hilton overload.” Besides, people want the slogan for our nation’s capitol to be catchy and exciting, and to me, “The American Experience,” is about as stimulating as Senator Robert Byrd’s underwear drawer.
According Washington tourism spokesman Andy Whittaker, one of the funniest slogans collected so far is “Washington, Watching a Ton.” Funny? Is everybody in D.C. smoking banana peels? If I can’t do better than that I’ll resign this column and start writing obituaries...beginning with my own.
How about “Washington D.C., Elevation 300 feet. Who Knew They Could Stack Baloney This High?”
Or, “What Do You Get When You Cross A Blue Donkey And A Red Elephant? Washington D.C.”
Keeping with politics, why not, “Washington D.C., More Hot Air Than A Chili cook-off in Death Valley.”
The city was named for our first president, so why not, “If George Washington Could See Washington D.C. Now, He’d Change His Name to Peoria.”
My vision for D.C. is something more than a slogan. I see a city-wide campaign. I picture this next idea on buses, billboards, and official D.C. stationery. They depict the Statue of Liberty, but instead of Lady Liberty’s head, they plunk a likeness of Marion Barry on top. Underneath, they could write: “Give Us Your Tired, Your Hungry, Your Crack heads. We’ll Elect Them Mayor… twice!”
After further consideration, I don’t know why they don’t turn this slogan job over to Congress. Any group that can put a positive spin on war and taxes could probably sell the Amish a motorized skateboard tour of D.C.
I’ll leave you with one last slogan: “Washington D.C., We’re Looking For One Good Leader.” Which, funnily enough, in Chinese translates to “Where’s Millard Fillmore When You Need Him?”
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