NOTE: Sussex Beat is a mix of news, analysis and commentary by Eric Magill, publisher of Sussex County Online.
Make Up Your Own Slogan
Imagine, if you will, that you put a dozen first graders into a room and said, "Describe what is special about the state of Delaware."
"It's good being first," one kid says.
Just a simple declarative sentence, one that just about any school kid could write.
Now imagine, if you will, that you put a bunch of high paid ad agency types and government bureaucrats into a room and asked them to complete the same task for the state's new tourism slogan.
They ultimately decide on, "It's good being first."
Now you know the new state slogan that state bureaucrats spent $250,000 on -- four words that tell you nothing about the state of Delaware, four words that don't tell you where we are, four words that any grammar school kid could have come up with, four words that don't say nearly as much about us as the two-word slogan they replace: "Small Wonder".
But rather than give school kids or the state's citizens a crack at developing a new tourism slogan for Delaware in a state-wide contest that would have cost far less than $250,000, the state handed $250,000 to a Wilmington ad agency and got that very slogan, a slogan that will be unveiled next week at a cost of another $350,000.
Worse, for $250,000, we learn that it's not even "great" to be first. It's only "good".
And worse yet, the state rejected other slogans such as "Delaware: The Mid-Atlantic Masterpiece" and "Delaware: As Big As Your Dreams". Those say a lot more about us than "It's Good Being First".
It strikes me that those who decided that "Small Wonder" did nothing for the state's image know little about the state we live in.
Delaware's major charms are that despite being the nation's second smallest state, it is amazingly wonderous. From the oceans and bays in the south to the historical attractions in the north, this small state is chock-full of natural and man-made wonders.
State tourism officials, however, complained that Small Wonder did little for the state's image over the years and that few out-of-state residents even knew where Delaware was.
Of course, you'd have a hard time convincing Sussex Countians that Small Wonder hasn't worked as they fight through traffic jams all summer. Common sense would tell you that many -- some would say too many -- people know exactly where Delaware is.
The fact is, the state didn't properly market the Small Wonder campaign to elaborate on what is so wonderous about this small state.
So now, a state whose lawmakers are wringing their hands over the lack of money available for important programs, has tossed $250,000 away for a childish slogan that will be the lynchpin of a new image campaign that will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars more to implement.
Before we waste hundreds of thousands of dollars more on this campaign, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner should force all those involved to go back to the drawing board or spend those hundreds of thousands of dollars developing a new Small Wonder campaign.
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