Friday, March 21, 2008

Cleveland’s Slogans,Catchphrases, and Monikers

In my 53 years living here in the Cleveland area, I’ve heard a lot of city slogans and catchphrases. Some have been very positive for the city, some have been downright negative. Some of the best ones have gone by the wayside while people seem to remember all the bad ones, and some make no impression at all.

The best one I think I ever heard, which sadly the city seems to have completely discarded, is “The Best Location in the Nation”. Every now and then, you hear someone in the national media mention this slogan, usually when they’re covering some sporting event. This slogan always seemed so uplifting and I don’t know why the city doesn’t go back to using it. There are so many good things about the city that can make one feel like it really IS the best place to be. OK, except in the winter.

Another slogan that had possibilities was “America’s North Coast”. The North Coast moniker is still used a lot by businesses and organizations; it’s also a nice regional reference. But, apparently it's not good enough for the city, who really should be capitalizing on its accessibility to Lake Erie.
There’s the very succinct yet accurate “Cleveland Rocks!” Funny, I hear this one a lot from people outside the city. It has very positive connotations and makes the city seem young, hip, and vibrant. We can all thanks local boy Drew Carey for using the song of the same name by Ian Hunter for his show’s theme. In fact, I think Drew captured the "essence" of Cleveland very well in his show, in a way that wasn’t entirely horrible. As I also spent some time growing up in Brooklyn, I think I can recall having the younger versions of Oswald and Lewis for neighbors.

Drew Carey's Full Version of Cleveland Rocks

The city has also had quite a few duds, though. Let’s not forget “New York's the Big Apple, but Cleveland's a Plum.” I always hated that slogan, because it made New York sound like it was still better anyway, and dried plums are prunes and you know what eating too many of those can do to you…Let’s just say I thought a plum was a lame analogy.

Of course, we’ve had some names bestowed on the city because of burning rivers, burning mayor’s hair, and the city going into default. The Cuyahoga River will probably never live down the ‘Burning River” moniker. But, at least we have the local Great Lakes Brewing Company's Burning River Pale Ale, so we can drown our sorrow in that. The one negative name we will probably never shake, maybe because it was so accurate at the time it was conceived and because, well, it just plain sounds catchy, is “The Mistake on The Lake.” This name seemed to spawn at the time Dennis Kucinich led the city straight into default. Why Dennis still has any influence in this area is beyond me...but I digress.

Many, many years ago the city had the name of ‘The Forest City.” Since there’re really aren’t many trees left in the city we can see why that name died out, although it is still used by some local businesses.

The name the city is trying to brand itself with now is Cleveland+, or Cleveland Plus. The name is an attempt to bring the cities of Akron, Canton, and Youngstown into the mix, something that I’m not quite sure people from Akron, Canton, or Youngstown really want. It does try to take a regional approach. To me, it completely ignores Lake and Lorain Counties, and takes the focus away from potential tourist attractions for the “North Coast.” I think Lake and Lorain have more tourism possibilities than, for example, Youngstown. And frankly, the name is a dog. It isn’t catchy and it really doesn’t speak to anything positive about the city. It sounds like an unfinished equation, like Cleveland + X = Y?. I give it an F.

I also thought you’d be interested in reading the article from The Scene which talks about some of the Cleveland sports teams slogans and their religion overtones. I always thought it was just me who felt this way.

Why Does Every Cleveland Sports Slogan Have to Be So Jesus-y?
Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 11:19:36 AM

Associated Press, Heaven Bureau, Dec. 18, 2007 – Just days after the Browns unveiled their new “Believeland” campaign, officials here have asked Cleveland’s sports franchises to stop using religious-sounding slogans to promote their sports teams, citing fear that local fans might think actually God cares about sports.

The Heavenly Committee for Slogans and Signage penned a lengthy letter to Cleveland’s three professional sports teams, asking them to consider more secular language in future campaigns. The committee acknowledges that “religion and sports have a long and cordial relationship – from hockey’s ‘Miracle on Ice’ to Pittsburgh’s ‘Immaculate Reception’ to the White Sox’s 'Don’t Stop Believein.'"

"But," it goes on, "don't you guys think you're over doing it?”

The letter cites several recent examples, including: ...

“Believeland,” Cleveland Browns, 2007. The Browns recently unveiled T-shirt slogan is “an obvious reference to the faith many religious people have in the existence of one all-knowing God,” the committee writes. Also, “It’s a little premature, don’t you think? I mean, you guys are one new Kellen Winslow hobby away from missing the playoffs. Couldn’t you at least wait until there’s that little ‘x’ next to your name in the standings?”

“We Are All Witnesses,” Nike/LeBron James/Cleveland Cavaliers, 2006-Present. Although coined by Nike, the Cavs and their fans adopted this phrase in 2006. The committee calls it "an obvious reference to Jesus Christ, which is troubling on multiple fronts. First, to compare the ascension of one human, whose existence is erasable at God’s whim, is tenuous at best. Second, Jesus is a way better post player than LeBron. Seriously. Dude's a monster on the block.”

“The Chosen One,” LeBron James, origin unknown. “This is a tattoo on James’ back and not actually the work of team officials, so we're hesitant to suggest changes to this slogan. But, seriously, the Chosen One? That's just plain stolen. Could you at least encourage him credit us somehow? Do his tattoos have a bibliography or something?”

“Rise Up,” Cleveland Cavaliers, 2007. The battle cry of the Cavaliers’ 2007 playoff run, the committee found the slogan on its own to be acceptable, since “LeBron does have huge ups.” But alongside the previously outlined Cavs slogans, this “is just patently false. It insinuates that after being chosen, and after being witnessed, James will one day 'rise up' from the dead. And while, in the event of the star’s untimely death, we would consider the franchise’s request to resuscitate James, thus saving the people of Cleveland from having to watch Ira Newble run the three, there’s lots of paperwork involved in that, and we’re just not sure we’re up to it. So knock it off.”

Here’s the Cleveland+ video – rather uninspiring:

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Don't forget the new slogan "Green City on a Blue Lake" for all of the environmental efforts and attempts to go green in the city. I'd say this is a great slogan!