A recent headline in Advertising Age about the city of Buffalo's new tourism slogan may seem self explanatory; however, I think there is a deeper statement being made when AdAge exclaims that "Buffalo's Tagline Highlights the Worst of Tourism Marketing."
The easy conclusion to reach is that the new hired pitch for the city of Buffalo- For Real, is truly terrible. However, it speaks volumes that AdAge, perhaps the strongest voice of the industry and a publication of choice for defenders of this type of meaningless "branding" is trying to tell them that their work is so bad it's comical. However, these jokes are getting quite old.
Buffalo's For Real campaign is bad for lots of reasons. The words are not distinct. It takes no specific position or particular meaning to the city. Yes, it makes sense if you think about it but a good slogan shouldn't have to be thought about to be understood. It just is.
Eventually, the slogan will make sense if one thinks about for a bit. Essentially, the message that Buffalo's tourism organization is trying to convey is that their town is much more than the snow, and chicken wings and closed factories that most people know it for. They're trying to change people's the perception of the city, which is what will really sink the new campaign. That's because perceptions rarely change.
Smart marketers don't fight to change a perception. They work with it. The reason is these marketers know that people will rarely make the necessary leap that's needed to change a perception. They simply won't believe it just because some marketer said so.
Therefore, in Buffalo's case, they use what people already know. A gray, snowy, wilting rust belt city that only survives because of it's citizens ingrained blue collar work ethic, grit, determination, toughness and pride.
Buffalo is a city of hearty souls. For Real.