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Doug Clark: Spokane’s new slogan ‘Creative by Nature’ is a lame and costly effort for The Lilac City

UPDATED: Thu., May 18, 2017, 6:11 a.m.

Jason Peterson snaps a cell phone picture of the Spokane River Lower Falls during his luch hour, Feb. 29, 2016, in downtown Spokane, Wash. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Jason Peterson snaps a cell phone picture of the Spokane River Lower Falls during his luch hour, Feb. 29, 2016, in downtown Spokane, Wash. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

This Russian hacking menace must stop.

First they try to mess with the election. Now it appears they’ve hypnotized our tourism chuckleheads into tossing nearly $250,000 down a marmot hole for a new, lame civic slogan that is even lamer than the last lame slogan they tagged us with.

I hope it’s the Russians.

It’s far worse to believe that the Visit Spokane boosters signed off on their own for what they unveiled last week.

“Spokane. Creative by Nature.”

I thought this was a joke when I first heard it.

Creative by Nature?

That’s no slogan. That’s what a clueless parent says when his psycho kid is caught setting fire to the neighbor’s cat.

“Not to worry, Mr. Johnson. It’s just a stage Johnny’s going through. Sometimes he doesn’t know quite how to handle his creative nature.”

It gets even crazier.

The Visit Spokane people want the rest of us to think that “Creative by Nature” is substantially better than the last dumb catchphrase, “Near Nature. Near Perfect.”

Come on. Does anyone really see much difference between these two slogans?

We basically traded in a ’71 Ford Pinto for a ’71 Chevy Vega.

I was hoping for the best with my Russian conspiracy theory. As much as I hate to admit it, however, all signs point to Visit Spokane as being the out-to-lunch bunch here.

To quote from our news story …

“The branding effort is a result of two years of work by Visit Spokane and other business and community groups.

“Meeting planners and consumers gave the concept good ratings during market testing,” said Cheryl Kilday, Visit Spokane’s president and CEO.


To come up with Creative by Nature?

Man, there had to be a lot of wine involved in this. Or at least there should’ve been.

The saddest thing is that nobody bothered to cut me in on all this fun. I don’t want to boast, but I am the sultan of sloganeering.

I’m the guy who came up with “Methlehem” as a nickname for the new city of Spokane Valley. And they never even had the courtesy to send me a thank you card, the ingrates.

Given a chance, I would have filled the Spokane branding void for the price of a lunch. Say, an O’Doherty’s Reuben at the Tom Keefe Multi-personality Booth.

Want a great new slogan, people?

Okay. Here it is.

“Spokane. Welcome to the Asphalt Bungle.”

This brand is not only catchy, but also gives fair warning to visitors that they’d better wear mouth guards before venturing out onto our moonscape streets.

I have more. How about …

Spokane: Got Pot!

Spokane: Don’t Order the Shrimp. (Learned that the hard way the other night.)

Spokane: Please, kids. Come back!

Spokane: From Scablands to Wonderland.

Spokane Falls & Can’t Get Up! (Have to credit my friend Wild Bill for that one.)

Spokane: 72 Percent Less Urine Smell Than Seattle.

Spokane: Feelin’ Fine in the 509.

Ain’t Life Great! Livin’ in Spokane. (That one comes with a free theme song.)

Show of hands, please. How many within the sound of my newsprint and cybervoice have ever visited a city because of its tourism slogan?

Thought so.

Here’s the secret the hyperactive tourism folks don’t want you to know. Nobody gives two squats about what a town’s tagline may or may not be.

It’s all self-perpetuating malarkey designed to keep the tourism personnel employed.

Here’s another reality. Spokane has a perfectly acceptable brand that is historically ingrained in the public’s mind.

Spokane: The Lilac City.

Yeah, it’s old. But there’s nothing forced or fake about it. Lilac City is far easier to understand than Creative by Nature or Near Nature/Near Perfect combined.

We have lilacs. There’s a Lilac Parade.

Best of all, Lilac City is free and established.

In addition to Creative by Nature, we’re now supposed to embrace a new Spokane logo that has “two inverted hearts to form the shape of a tree in place of the ‘A,’ ” our story reported.

Maybe it’s just me, but the thing looks more like a suppository.

This is what you get when so-called experts try too hard to come up with something cool. It’s like trying to start a bonfire by rubbing two wet sticks together.

It’s embarrassing to see how much effort was expended for such little payoff.

According to the Spokane Strategic Brand Development spec sheet I looked at, “Spokane. Creative by Nature” is the result of …

“2016 – Phase One: Brand Identity research, image research, competitive indexing, brand audit, concept testing …

“2017 – Phase Two: Visual Identity, brand positioning, brand strategy, brand tools (pop-up displays, banners, brand standards, brand registration, etc.”

Getting a space shuttle ready for launch is easier.

According to the sheet, $174,984 was spent on expenses, with another $73,800 dedicated for “additional budgeted expenses.”

All told, Spokane’s new slogan will gobble up $248,784 or about 1.5 million pounds of grub if you gave the money to the food bank.

Oh, and the work?

Performed by two West Side firms, as in Seattle and Vancouver B.C.

You’d hope that if we were gonna waste this kind of dough we would at least waste it right here in Spokaloo – Near Zags/Near Few.

Aw, but what do I know? I was only born here.

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