Viewpoint: New Phoenix city tag: Urban land-Phil?

[Source: E. J. Montini, Arizona Republic] — Last week, Mayor Phil Gordon outlined his 17-point plan to transform Phoenix into the greenest city in America, an initiative that may or may not lead to an improved environment but did cause a number of enthusiastic readers to shovel out the compost heaps of their imaginations and recycle (to me) even MORE of their suggestions for the city’s new motto.  For example:

  • “Phoenix: America’s greenest (with envy) city.”  
  • And: “Phoenix: We’re Green! (Just look at our swimming pools).”
  • And: “Phoenix: Urban land-Phil.”

Downtown Phoenix

A little over a week ago, I wrote a column about how the Downtown Phoenix Partnership paid a marketing firm $160,000 to come up with a new “brand” for Phoenix.  The result?  “Phoenix: Arizona’s urban heart.”

Since then, by way of the telephone, e-mail, letters, and blog responses, readers have offered (free of charge, mostly) their ideas for what a proper slogan should be.  Some individuals were inspired simply to tweak the “Arizona’s urban heart” slogan by suggesting a less conspicuous but still vital body part.  As in: “Phoenix: Arizona’s hardening prostate.”

Others seemed to believe that our community is best identified by its complicated relationship with our neighbor to the south.  A few of these include:

  • “Phoenix: Mexico’s second-largest city.”
  • “Phoenix: Kidnapping is the new economy.”
  • “Phoenix: Latin America’s best-kept secret.”
  • “Phoenix: No English, no problem.”

A number of others residents chose to mimic the wildly successful slogan for Las Vegas, “What happens here stays here.”  Among them were:

  • “What happens in Phoenix . . . is California’s fault.”
  • And: “What happens in Vegas . . . sort of happens at our Indian casinos.”

Some readers tinkered with how the first two letters in Phoenix sound like an “f” and incorporated phonetics into slogans that were both descriptive and explanatory.  Like:

  • “Phoenix: Phirst in phorclosure.”
  • And: “Phoenix: Phar from Philadelphia.”

Others took their inspiration from the city’s reputation as a retirement destination or a place for those looking to make a fresh start.  These included:

  • “Phoenix: So close to California, so far from God.”
  • “Phoenix: Help! We’re surrounded!”
  • “Phoenix: Where Cubs fans go to die.”
  • “Phoenix: Will you PLEASE switch off your turn signal?”
  • “Phoenix: Because I was out of good options.”

On the other hand, quite a few readers took the challenge of creating a new slogan seriously.  And after having read what seemed like hundreds of heartfelt and earnest suggestions, I must admit that I have come to the conclusion that the $160,000 spent by the Downtown Phoenix Partnership was… a bargain.  

This is not to say that all of the offerings I received were without potential.  Some were decent.  For instance: “Phoenix: Little big town.”  It’s just that most of the suggestions did not possess the kind of peevish whimsy, existential kookiness or incisive self-deprecation that I love about this place.  Which is why the best of the suggested slogans, hands down, was this: “Phoenix: It’s Arpaiolicious!” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

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