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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Cleveland State U's Marketing Slogan: Some Think It Sells Urban Decay

CLEVELAND (TDB) -- Nobody appears to be suggesting something akin to "New York's the Big Apple, Cleveland's a Plum," but a roomful of urban studies cognoscenti at Cleveland State University wondered aloud recently if the school's marketing slogan is too gritty. The campus is in downtown Cleveland. The slogan is "City life is our campus." It was pointed out that phrase lacks any kind of puffery, and might conjure up images of crime, poverty, urban blight and a local public school system that has a reputation as Ohio's basket case.

Melanie Murphy got the story for the Cleveland Stater. She noted the criticism the motto has no punch, or panache, or promotional appeal. There seemed to be sentiment that it worked against the school's image.

"Is this really a positive message? Cleveland is ranked as one of the top cities with high crime rates, and public education is below average. Cleveland has a poor reputation, and so the outward migration continues. Tower City and the Galleria were the places to shop. Things have changed over the past few years. They are losing business."

If any new slogans have been proposed or are floating around, Murphy didn't record their existence. Perhaps the school is satisfied with "City life is our campus." For those who don't know, Cleveland's A Plum was a marketing campaign dreamed up by The Plain Dealer in the 1980s (at least that is what The Daily Bellwether remembers). It appeared around the time Ohio fell into a severe recession and steel plants and other industries were disappearing. There was another slogan, a real meat-and-potatoes phrase from that same era which frequently turned up on sweatshirts -- Cleveland, You Gotta Be Tough.

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