Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Planning and managing for the future, not the past

Image: Gretel Daugherty, Grand Junction (CO) Sentinel. Danielle Cooper holds one of the last few “WTF: Welcome to Fruita” stickers left at Aspen Street Coffee Co., 136 E. Aspen Ave., in Fruita.

People have been able to pick up the bumper stickers at the coffeehouse, but the stack is running low, Cooper said. “We’re giving them away until they’re gone,” she said. Cooper is an employee at the coffeehouse.

While I might not think this is a good idea, a couple in Fruita, Colorado printed up some promotional stickers promoting "Welcome to Fruita," a play on the fact that the acronym WTF also means something else. See "‘WTF’ sticker shock in Fruita: Despite popularity, city leaders cool to idea for tourism promotion" from the Grand Junction Sentinel.

From the article:

Steve and Denise Hight thought they had hit on something quirky — and little more — when they stamped a simple double-entendre in black letters on a white background.

They quietly circulated 500 stickers, reading “WTF” in big, bold letters and “Welcome to Fruita” in smaller type, to downtown Fruita businesses and left a stack at the Fruita Civic Center. City employees who saw the stickers fly off the table phoned the Hights and inquired about translating their idea into a possible marketing campaign.

And that marked the jumping-off point for a three-letter abbreviation generating far more buzz for the Hights than the 128-page book detailing the history of Fruita that the couple published last year.

Within a day or two, customers snapped up nearly all of the stickers and slapped them on car and truck bumpers. Downtown businesses have been hounded for more. The Hights have placed an order for an additional 1,500 stickers for windows and mountain bikes and passed the logo along to a local T-shirt shop for merchandise. ...

A majority of council members, bombarded with hundreds of emails, phone calls and in-person contacts from overwhelmingly dismayed residents, say they will not agree to use WTF or the separately developed phrase “hell yeah” in any future city-funded promotional materials. Most said while the ideas behind the off-color letters and words are creative, they’re too crude to incorporate into a broad advertising pitch.

While I do understand their point, the fact of the matter is that marketing is also about cultivating and developing new audiences including the next (and the next after that) generation.

There is no question that in the connected social-media-centric world, more direct messages are necessary to break through the almost continuous advertising and messaging space that exists.

This is one way to break through.

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