Sin City has trotted out a new slogan
They are to cities what a first tattoo is to a person: a statement of self-identity, something reverential or maybe even a little naughty. But what a city calls itself – or what residents say about it in sometimes unofficial slogans – says more about a city than stacks and stacks of mind-numbing federal census figures ever could.
“A great city slogan leverages the power of storytelling,” says Dave Mastovich, CEO and founder of MASSolutions, a Pittsburgh-based marketing firm. “It’s a two-way celebration of how a city sees itself and how it wants to be seen. The best tell a story in a few powerful words that pack a marketing wallop that cannot be equaled by million-dollar ad campaigns.”
Some are data-driven results of civic boosters eager to attract attention and tourist dollars or wind up on city hall letterhead. Others are more organic and owe their origins to insightful observations of bar stool philosophers and wind up on tacky tourist merchandise.
Here are 12 of the best and most colorful around the U.S. Though some have been replaced by new slogans, the ones below are enduring and won’t easily be forgotten. And like the cities they represent, they’re all over the map.
Hershey, Pennsylvania: ‘The Sweetest Place on Earth’
Hershey, Pennsylvania’s slogan is “The Sweetest Place on Earth” as Hershey’s is based there. (Photo: Visit Hershey & Harrisburg)
This has been the widely embraced – and heavily promoted slogan – since 1990. And why not? Hershey is what company towns would look like if companies were run by 6-year-olds. There’s a zoo, water park, an amusement park, museums, a grand hotel and a great big candy factory that perfumes the whole town with the heady scent of chocolate. Founder Milton Hershey was determined to build a utopia that nurtured the people he employed. They gave him Kisses (about 1,300 per minute). He gave them schools, affordable housing, theaters, championship golf and everything else.
Eagle Pass, Texas: ‘Where Yee-Haw! meets Ole!’
The slogan has been in use since the early 1990s. This euphoric little border town is where multiculturalism is literally embraced. Eagle Pass and Mexico’s Piedras Negras have a long history of friendly collaboration. Each March, Eagle Pass is home to the International Friendship Festival. The highlight is the Abrazo – Spanish for “embrace” – where people from both countries line up to hug one another in the middle of a border-spanning international bridge. Unfortunately, the festival had to be canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Saratoga, Wyoming: ‘Where the Trout Leap in Main Street’
This evocative phrase has been Saratoga’s official town motto for 93 years. The late outdoor writer Billy O’Neil used the line in 1927, and it just stuck. O’Neil’s line still resonates with people who love the great outdoors and enjoy getting hooked on colorful imagery.
Independence, Missouri: ‘Where the Trail Starts and the Buck Stops’
“A Great American Story” is the current slogan, but an earlier saying, “Where Trails Start and the Buck Stops,” is a favorite. The first half refers to the city’s history as a key starting point for hundreds of thousands of pioneers who sought new lives in the American West. The second part refers, of course, to the phrase popularized by a sign on President Harry S Truman’s desk that read “The buck stops here.” America’s 33rd president called the Missouri town home.
Albuquerque, New Mexico: ‘It’s a Trip’
The official slogan is “One Albuquerque,” but a previous marketing tagline was “It’s a Trip,” which may be the most potent promotional use of eight letters in marketing history. Straight-arrow nostalgics will associate it with vehicular traffic along old Route 66 that cuts right through town. Yet “trip” also has subversive meanings popular with people who enjoy reciting lines from movies like “The Big Lebowski.”
New York City: ‘The City That Never Sleeps’
New York state is still using the tuneful “I Love New York,” but the city has no official slogan. Liza Minnelli first performed “New York, New York,” in the 1977 Martin Scorsese, though many are familiar with the 1979 Frank Sinatra version and its signature swagger. Both crooned of the “city that never sleeps,” which struck a chord with residents and visitors.
Las Vegas: ‘What Happens Here, Stays Here’
The old slogan somehow managed to make sin seem sacred. It both leers and turns a blind eye to the itches much of America longs to scratch. It doesn’t go so far as to endorse immorality, but it does say – wink, wink – this is the place to come if you want to get away with it. Sin City’s new tagline “What Happens Here, Only Happens Here” cannot usurp the original.
Las Vegas’ new slogan: ‘What happens here, only happens here’ has landed
Other notable slogans
Gettysburg, South Dakota: “Where The Battle Wasn’t”
Peculiar, Missouri: “Where the Odds Are with You” (unofficial)
San Andreas, California: “It’s Not Our Fault” (unofficial)
Gravity, Iowa: “We’re Down to Earth. If Gravity Goes, We All Go” (unofficial)
Glendive, Montana: “Good People Surrounded by Badlands”
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