Slogan Showdown 

Is it time to bag "Easy to Love"? The experts weigh in.

Keep 'em coming, Goldman says. "Nobody has said, 'Keep the slogan we got,'" he points out.

The city's last sort-of-official slogan was "One City, Our City," which has been nixed by Mayor L. Douglas Wilder's administration. And many say adman David Martin's brainchild "Easy to Love," which was underwritten by civic boosters and unveiled to much fanfare in 2001, has failed to capture the national imagination.

We turned to three local marketing experts for their thoughts.

Doug Burford, who has previously suggested his own marketing plans to the city, is co-president of Burford Company Advertising:

One City, Our City: "Doesn't mean anything."

Easy to Love: "Great if you're promoting syphilis."

Gateway to the New South: "Is probably OK, except you've got a lot of Northerners that are now living here." And, he says, it's a little limiting. In 2007, "we could be the gateway to the whole world, right here."

His suggestion: "America's Most Historic City." Just think, Burford says, the region has been home to Pocahontas, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, a handful of presidents and Robert E. Lee. "And you have Doug Wilder," he says. "Now, if that doesn't make up the most historic city, I don't know what does." If other cities take issue with the appellation, he says, well, let 'em. The resulting PR battle would fix Richmond even more firmly in the public's mind.

Donna Queen is president of CommuniQue Marketing:

One City, Our City: "Sorry, I don't understand that. One city as opposed to two cities? Our city as opposed to your city? What's the point?"

Easy to Love: "At least there's a tie-in with 'Virginia Is for Lovers,' which has been so successful for so many years. But it's a bit of a shameless imitation of 'I Love New York.' Richmond is well-known for being a creative center. We can do much better than that."

Gateway to the New South: "It sounds like an update on what Ulysses S. Grant would have called Richmond when he wrote in his war-torn journal. What are we saying? Richmond is a portal to Charlotte, Atlanta and Orlando, the real cities in the land of Dixie? I don't think so. And let's stop associating our city only with the South. Come on, Richmond, let's get out of the 1860s."

Her suggestions: The city's slogan should "represent both the private and commercial sectors; appeal to both residents and visitors; project the future and not the past; reflect what's unique and special about our city." She continues: "Let's come up with a slogan that will be so good that it will survive changes in our city's administration. It takes a strategy first, creativity next, and then a whole lot of patience and confidence."

Terry Fink is managing partner and president of Planet Central:

One City, Our City: "Gee, was Richmond once two cities owned by someone else? This line is confusing, appears to be directed exclusively to those already living in the city, and seems to be trying to rectify some kind of separation problem."

Easy to Love: "This is a nice line but feels a bit close to 'Virginia Is for Lovers' — there must be a lot of extra love going on around here. The slogan is good, as it allows other attributes of the city to be built around it. Richmond's 'Easy to Love' because ... architecture, cultural richness, cost of living, river and parks, wonderful people, et cetera. This slogan does not, however, immediately differentiate the city from other cities. Isn't Columbus, Ohio, 'easy to love' too?"

Gateway to the New South: "There are many reasons politicians should remain politicians — this slogan is one of them. It is a fine strategic positioning thought that works externally and internally. It is progressive and geographically relevant. But, come on, it is completely cliché and would be forgotten faster than it takes to say it."

His suggestions: "The current slogan, 'Easy to Love,' should not be tossed without understanding what kind of traction it's gained. I've seen it on buses, billboards, at the airport, on print ads, et cetera, and there's a financial value to this kind of exposure. Unthinkingly chucking it is a mistake. It is probably time, though, to take it to phase two and begin putting more emphasis on defining what is it about Richmond in particular that is so easy to love." S

Letters to the editor may be sent to: letters@styleweekly.com


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