Hey North Carolina, it’s time to get branded. Don’t worry, no hot implements will be used. But branding was big news at a recent meeting of the state’s Economic Development Board.
They want to spend $1.5 million on a new slogan to attract tourists and businesses to our fair state. So WFAE's Tom Bullock decided to peel back the onion on this attempt at sloganeering.
Full disclosure: I just moved here a few months ago. But even I know North Carolina has a state slogan, “First in Flight.” It’s even on our licenses plates. And license plates don’t lie right?
Well, kind of. David Rhoades is the Director of Marketing for the North Carolina Department of Commerce and he says the state's motto is "To be rather than to seem.”
Maybe it sounds better in Latin.
Rhoades and his staff are looking for that one phrase to lure them all, businesses and tourists alike.
"In today’s marketplace there’s so much competition for people’s attention there’s really a need now to unify under one umbrella."
So if Virginia is for lovers, Georgia is on your mind, and South Carolina has those smiling faces and beautiful places – what’s North Carolina to do?
Hold a contest, of course. Crowd-source a new state slogan that sums this whole place up in one new catchy phrase.
The state-run Brand NC project ended up with more than 250 entries – poems, songs, photos, you name it.
Isn’t there a law or something that says all slogans need to be vetted by a focus group? Probably not.
But I figured why not take a random sample of the submissions and run them by some folks qualified to give their opinion on such matters. They had to write professionally, be smart and live in North Carolina longer than I have.
Ok, I just asked my colleagues at WFAE. First up:
Even The Little Things Are Big Here
Greg Collard: "Terrible."
Kevin Kniestedt: "That sounds like a rip off of something from Texas."
North Carolina Coast to Coast
Marshall Terry: "That doesn’t make any sense."
Kevin Kniestedt: "How does that work?"
Meghann Stubel: "Inaccurate."
Now, to one of the finalists: North Carolina Mountain Style
Marshall Terry: "I like it, I’m sort of a mountain boy. But it's only a third of the state."
Kevin Kniestedt: "What is mountain style? If you were to dress in mountain style, what would you dress like?
Meghann Stubel: "Flannel and a beard."
A resounding "eh" on "Mountain Style" from the rest of our group.
Of course, criticizing slogans is much easier than creating them. Three members of our staff rose to the challenge. Duncan McFadyen suggests "From the Smokies to the sea, it’s the place to be."
Marshall Terry came up with a culinary English lesson, "Barbecue, it’s a noun not a verb."
And Meghann came up with the most literal of all, "North Carolina home to our residents."
The real new slogan and marketing campaign will start rolling out this summer. There are currently no plans to change the license plates. Take that Ohio!