HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT TRAVEL SLOGANS?
Do I have your attention? Sorry if that was weird, but really, travel slogans are actually kind of weird. I’m mostly talking about state slogans in the US, but there are plenty that exist outside basically everywhere.
I started thinking about the subject because of a shirt. This shirt, which I got at a thrift store, shows two little owls on it and says “Algebra is for lovers,” and nobody ever gets it. For the longest time, I didn’t even get it. I thought it was about math and sex. After being asked a whole bunch of times about what the shirt meant, I turned to the internet, determined to find out.
As it turns out, it’s a play off of the Virginia tourism slogan: Virginia is for lovers. The slogan, which launched in 1969 is one of the most successful state tourism slogans in the US, in addition to being freaking adorable. As shown by my shirt, the slogan is ripe for parody. Examples: Chemistry is for lovers. Vegas shotgun weddings are for lovers. Condoms are for lovers. It does not get better than that.
A good slogan is iconic; it captures the essence of the region and brings out the best qualities. Here is a list of other state slogans. Reading through it, you might wonder what the hell “CONNECTicut” is thinking. Then there’s Michigan, who is trying really fucking hard with its Pure Michigan ads. (There are 80 videos in that playlist, by the way.) And of course, there’s the iconic “I Love New York” that was plastered on every mug, t-shirt, and postcard I saw while visiting on a class trip. Apparently, real life New Yorkers find this slogan icky, despite (or maybe because of) the fact that it is widely imitated.
What I think is weird about travel slogans is that they try to brand something that isn’t really controllable. A company is this manufactured entity; people decide what it’s supposed to be, or at the very least they try and convince people to buy into its image. State government, or even just a specific region’s tourism industry, isn’t cohesive in that way. Sure, different states have different climates, attractions, and even demographic makeups, but they are all kind of accidental. The result is a lot of crappy, random slogans and a couple of really catchy, enchanting ones.
So yeah. I think the whole thing is pretty weird.