June 19, 2013

Portland's new slogan inspires mix of bravos, boos

City and business leaders laud its versatility and simplicity, but online communities and a local expert aren't impressed.

Video created for Portland's branding campaign. Video produced by p3, music by Spencer Albee.

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – City and business leaders introduced Portland's new slogan Tuesday, saying its simplicity and versatility open up many marketing opportunities.

click image to enlarge

Portland Mayor Michael Brennan speaks during the unveiling of the city's new slogan, "Portland, Maine. Yes. Life's good here," during a news conference at Portland City Hall on Tuesday.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

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Apothecary owner Mark McAuliffe walks out of city hall Tuesday, June 18, 2013.after the city of Portland unveiled its new slogan to promote Portland: "Portland, Maine. Yes. Life's good here".

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

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The new slogan got less favorable reviews from a local marketing firm. And the upbeat line about Portland's quality of life got skewered by droves of Facebook users.

The slogan – "Portland, Maine. Yes. Life's good here." – was inspired by a writer who lived in Portland, and is part of a branding effort the city expects to roll out over this summer. That effort includes a promotional video, which also debuted Tuesday, and other yet-to-be-developed strategies for promoting the city.

The Portland Regional Chamber, Portland's Downtown District, the Convention + Visitors Bureau and Creative Portland Corp. volunteered to help the city with the effort. The city provided staff support but did not allocate any funding, officials say.

Jennifer Hutchins, executive director of Creative Portland Corp., said the strength of the slogan is its versatility and a simple message that can be embraced by the three groups targeted by the effort: businesses, visitors and residents.

"Let's face it, we're a small city in a big world and the best thing we can do is to combine our limited marketing dollars and raise one voice to the rest of the world," Hutchins said.

Creative Portland Corp. is a nonprofit established by the city to seek and administer grants to promote Portland as a destination for young professionals and people involved in the creative economy. The group has a goal of attracting 10,000 creative professionals to Portland over the next decade.

A handful of local businesses turned out for Tuesday's event at City Hall to show how they could capitalize on the slogan.

For example, Coffee By Design might say, "Portland, Maine. (Insert logo) Roasting's good here."

The Portland Sea Dogs could say, "Portland, Maine. (Insert logo) Baseball's good here."

Mayor Michael Brennan said the slogan is a "key part" of the economic development plan the city adopted in 2011.

He gave an example of the importance of branding, involving an email from someone who was very upset with the way parking laws were enforced. At the end of the email, Brennan realized the writer was addressing an issue in Portland, Ore., not Maine.

Brennan said he responded to the author, and it turns out, he was rather fond of Portland, Maine.

"That illustrates in some small way the importance of branding," Brennan said. "We want (people) to know when they look at Portland, they're looking at Portland, Maine."

David Puelle, a Yarmouth-based designer who organized a group of creative professionals to help guide the process, said they combed through Portland's history to find something authentic.

They looked through the work of Portland poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, but found nothing suitable. The search continued until they came across an essay by John Preston, a gay activist and author of erotic novels who moved to Portland in the late 1970s.

Preston was an outspoken advocate for equal rights. He was born in Massachusetts and lived in major U.S. cities, including New York before choosing to settle down in Portland to concentrate on his writing.

He became a leading gay-rights advocate here and inspired the city to enact its Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Ordinance in 1992. He died here in 1994 of AIDs-related causes.

Portland, more recently, was at the forefront of efforts to legalize gay marriage, and was among the first communities to perform gay marriage ceremonies, at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 29, 2012 -- the minute the new state law took effect.

Preston wrote an essay titled, "Portland, Maine. Life's Good Here." In it, he explained why he chose to settle in Portland. His friends would often ask if he was coming back to the city, and he would often reply, "No. Life's good here."

(Continued on page 2)

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Additional Photos

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Business owner David Puelle of Puelle Design joined other business leaders Tuesday, June 18, 2013 as the city of Portland unveiled its new slogan promote the city: "Portland, Maine. Yes. Life's good here."

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

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Coffee By Design co-owner Alan Spear said he's happy with the new city slogan.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

 


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