The Mass market
BY CHRIS WRIGHT
" Make It in Massachusetts. " That was a good slogan: snappy, alliterative, optimistic, a bit saucy. But then the economy went south, and so did the " Make It " slogan. (Make what? A trip to the unemployment office?) It’s a tricky business, state-sloganeering. For a while we had " The Spirit of Massachusetts Is the Spirit of America, " but that was clunky; we had " We’d Love To Show You Around " — too vague; then " Take a Real Vacation " — too haughty. Right now, our official slogan is this: nada. In fact, we’ve been sloganless for two years, which does not make the people at the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism (MOTT) happy.
Last month, MOTT began soliciting proposals online for a new state slogan — the first time the office has entrusted the public with this solemn task. " Tourism is a huge economic generator in Massachusetts, " says MOTT’s Amy Strack. " It’s the third-largest industry we have. " Not only is composing a state slogan important work, Strack adds, it’s fraught with the potential for geographical faux pas. " You can have a slogan about the beaches of the Cape and the North Shore, " she says, " but what does that do for the Berkshires? We don’t want to show favoritism. " Interested parties, then, need to capture the spirit of the entire state in a memorable phrase that will fit comfortably on a license plate. Got that?
To date, almost 300 people have risen to the challenge — not all of them triumphantly. Entries range from the literal ( " Come to Massachusetts " ) to the inscrutable ( " I’ll Be Traveling Nowhere Until I Find a ‘Special Nowhere’ " ). There are punny slogans ( " Come View a MASSterpiece " ; " MassaCHOOSEetts " ; " MassachuSETTS the Tone " ), politically charged slogans ( " We Have a $15B Grand Canyon " ), goofy slogans ( " Lobsters & Mobsters " ); long-winded slogans ( " From the Cape Dunes to the Berkshire Mountains, Fall in Love with Massachusetts " ); and slogans that are just rude. More than one person, says Strack, proposed a well-known " anti-Yankees sentiment. "
Though none of the entries has leapt out at her so far, Strack insists the search will be worth it in the long run. For starters, it’s cheap: entrants — whose words may one day grace posters, hats, key rings, and commemorative mugs across the state — stand to win a couple of nights at a local hotel. Then again, that would be a pretty good deal for the person who suggested " Bring Your Ass to Mass (add a picture of a donkey with slogan), " or the one who came up with " Ask About Our State Motto Contest, " or the person (okay, me) who could do no better than " Massachusetts: It’s Not on Fire! "
Failed sloganeers shouldn’t feel too bad, though. Massachusetts has been in the market for a workable slogan for two decades now, with minimal success. Even the pros can’t seem to get it right. " I’ve come up with a couple of ideas, " says Strack. " But nothing that’s good enough. "
The deadline for entries is July 31. Log on to www.massvacation.com/toursimslogan
Issue Date: July 11 - 18, 2002
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