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Seattle residents critical of 'metronatural' slogan

Associated Press

The Gazette

October 22, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by The Gazette, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of The Gazette.]

  SEATTLE (AP) — When Washington state announced its new tourism slogan last spring, Pike Place Market vendor Kenny Telesco was willing to give it a chance.

  He practiced saying it with ‘‘jazz hands’’ and asked tourists to ‘‘SayWA’’ as they posed for photos. But he’s not sure he can stomach Seattle’s new tourism slogan, unveiled Friday in 18-foot-tall letters atop the Space Needle: ‘‘metronatural.’’

  ‘‘How do you use that in a sentence?’’ Telesco asked. ‘‘ ‘Welcome to Metronatural.’ . . . It’s an airport where you can buy organic bananas.’’

  Others suggested ‘‘metronatural’’ evoked an urban nudist camp and speculated about whether it would last longer than ‘‘SayWA,’’ which the state dropped recently because it failed to catch on.

  ‘‘Metronatural’’ is the result of a 16-month, $200,000 effort by Seattle’s Convention and Visitors Bureau. The bureau plans to spend $300,000 marketing the slogan, which will largely be targeted at generating business for the Washington Convention and Trade Center.

  The idea behind ‘‘metronatural’’ was to capture that ‘‘Seattle offers the best of both worlds,’’ visitors bureau president Don Welsh said in a statement. ‘‘We have a vibrant urban center surrounded by pristine wilderness and outdoor recreation.’’

  A sampling of vendors and tourists at Pike Place Market, one of the city’s premier attractions, suggested that Seattle doesn’t need a slogan, let alone one that plays on that buzzword of yesteryear ‘‘metrosexual.’’

  That’s the approach that Vancouver, British Columbia, took when it updated its tourism marketing. Instead of having a tag line, advertisements simply say ‘‘Tourism Vancouver,’’ with a large ‘‘V’’ styled to resemble an Olympic medal hanging from an athlete’s neck.

  It was Vancouver’s decision to update its slogan that prompted Seattle to follow suit.

  A look at the city’s tourism industry would seem to suggest it’s been doing fine without the new slogan. A record 9.1 million people visited Seattle last year, according to the visitors bureau.