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What’s a motto with the folks up in Phoenix?

Citizen Staff Writer

Phoenix: “Arizona’s urban heart.” That, my friends, is Phoenix’s new marketing slogan, its desired image or branding, if you will. The Downtown Phoenix Partnership actually paid some marketing firm $160,000 to come up with it.

I’d say that was a lunch hour well spent. For the marketing firm. Not so much for Phoenix.

What does it even mean? If Phoenix is the heart, does that make Tucson the groin and Yuma the armpit of Arizona?

And does the slogan make anyone want to visit or stay in Phoenix?

It’s supposed to be “aspirational,” according to the downtown partnership. Aspirational of what? When I think “urban,” I think traffic, pollution and crime. Does Phoenix want to be known as the Detroit of Arizona?

I don’t get it. But this is something that cities do. Every so often, some of Tucson’s best and brightest suggest that maybe it’s time we rebrand ourselves.

My position is that “The Old Pueblo,” Tucson’s longest-lasting nickname, doesn’t say much but at least it’s paid for.

The Metropolitan Tucson Convention & Visitors Bureau has been been promoting Tucson thusly for the past two or three years: “Tucson: Real. Natural. Arizona.”

“I think it helps identify what Tucson is,” said Kimberly Schmitz, the bureau’s director of communications.

A decade ago, the bureau’s slogan for the city was, “Tucson: Arizona’s Other Natural Wonder.” It was a play off of “Arizona: The Grand Canyon State.”

The runners-up for that marketing campaign included “Tucson: Amazing Space,” “Tucson: A Natural Selection” and “Tucson: The Attraction Is Obvious.”

Before that, the bureau branded our city as “Tucson: America’s Favorite Sun.”

A slogan contest held by the City Council in the early 1980s was won by the following: “Tucson: The Sunshine Factory.”

Just in case the Tucson Citizen has closed by the time a new slogan is needed, I’m writing down my suggestions for posterity. It should be noted for the history books that I came up with them after a co-worker delivered a rum cake to the newsroom that was heavy on rum and light on cake.

The slogans are free for the taking and worth every penny:

Tucson: We’re No. 2 and that’s OK.

Tucson: Forever stuck in 1980.

Tucson: Forever stuck in traffic.

Tucson: No jobs, but all the sunshine you can eat.

Tucson: A one-horse, one-newspaper kind of town.

Tucson: Don’t sweat it.

Tucson: Vaya con Dios.

Tucson: To Hell with the White Sox.

Tucson: Home of the Southwest’s finest aquarium. Oh no . . . home of the tortoise-shaped arena. Oops, home of the Rainbow Bridge to nowhere. Oh, never mind.

Tucson: Who needs a downtown anyway?

Tucson: Its dysfunction is incomparable.

Tucson: What happens in Tucson stays . . . Hey, wait, nothing happens in Tucson.

Tucson: Better days are ahead – and behind – just not in the present.

Tucson: Lee Marvin once lived here.

Tucson: Good enough for a former Beatle. Of course, you’d have to know that Paul McCartney once owned – and possibly still owns – a ranch here.

Don’t look at me that way. As a native Tucsonan, I can say these things. They’re all in jest, but, unfortunately, all hold a kernel of truth.

I love my hometown. But I’ve seen it grow much bigger in the last 40 years without growing much better. Today, the best thing about it is the inspiration for my final slogan:

Tucson: At least we’re not Phoenix.

Anne T. Denogean can be reached at 573-4582 and adenogean@tucsoncitizen.com. Address letters to P.O. Box 26767, Tucson, AZ 85726-6767. Her columns run Tuesdays and Fridays.


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