As Lewiston-Auburn searches for a new slogan, it is worth noting that the Lewiston Chamber of Commerce was doing exactly the same thing back in February of 1913.
According to our "Looking Back" column, in January of 1913 the process was simple. The Chamber offered a $20 gold coin to "the man, woman or child who shall, before March 10, send to the secretary the 'slogan' that in the opinion of the Chamber best serves the purpose of advertising the city."
The Chamber hoped the magic few words, whenever spoken, would at once remind the hearer of Lewiston and, perhaps, lead that person to develop some commercial enterprise here.
A few days later, the Chamber reported that a few possibilities had been received:
Don't Boast, Boost,
Hub of Maine,
Larger, Livelier Lewiston,
Lewiston For Satisfaction,
Lift Together for Lewiston,
Live Wire City, and
(our favorite) Humming City, which conjures images of happy people humming songs and whistling while they work.
One hundreds years later, the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce and the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council are, coincidentally, hunting for a new slogan.
The process is considerably more complex these days.
Work started about a year ago when some began to suspect the current slogan, "It's happening here," had grown a wee bit tired. What's more, the same slogan was being used by dozens of communities here and in Canada, all copycats we suspect.
So, the Regional Image Committee was asked to find a replacement. The group started by doing a survey which found, among other things, people here are fairly satisfied with their community.
However, only 6 percent of L-A residents think people in other Maine communities have a good image of the Twin Cities.
L-A has been struggling with this perception problem for decades. As a man from Greene suggested in the survey, "A lot of positive things are happening in L-A, but decades of negativity are a hard pattern to break."
Ain't that the truth.
And that, of course, is why communities go in search of snappy new slogans — to send a different signal about themselves to the world.
The 100-year-old suggestions might seem a little dated today, but the sentiments behind them are as fresh as ever.
We want others to know we are large, lively and important, even central, to economic activity in Maine. We want others to believe we are industrious, that we show leadership and produce a high quality of life for all our residents. And we would love it if they started a big business here paying outrageously high wages.
Coming up with a strong slogan isn't easy. Two organizations. Two cities. Dozens of public and private individuals with their own opinions and agendas.
Right now, the Image Committee is working on a RFP, or request for proposals, to hire a marketing firm to help out.
So, this may take awhile.
While we wait, the Sun Journal is re-creating the century old idea of a slogan contest.
The U.S. Treasury stopped issuing $20 gold coins in 1933, and the prices on Ebay (between about $3,000 and $90,000) are slightly out of our range.
But are offering a $20 bill, delivered within a genuine gold-colored envelope, to the person with the best slogan.
Slogans must be a few words in length, positive, vivid and unforgettable. Email your idea(s) to firstname.lastname@example.org, call him (207-689-2846) or mail them to Scott Taylor, Sun Journal, 104 Park St., Lewiston, Maine, 04243-4400. Include your name and phone number.
Here's an initial idea, just to prime the old brain pump:
"Best two cities by a dam site!"
Now top that.