LEWISTON — The Twin Cities' next great marketing slogan could be "It's Happening Here" again — or it could be something new.
No matter what, it probably won't be "City of Big Ideas" or "Great Falls, Great People" or any of the slogans readers submitted to the Sun Journal's branding contest.
Local business development and marketing officials say they'd like to begin this summer the serious work of finding a slogan that captures the essence of Lewiston-Auburn and sells it to the region and world — if the rest of the community is behind it.
"'It's Happening Here' may be the approach people want to take," said Chip Morrison, president of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce. "I do think people are ready for a change, but we don't want to preclude anything. The key is that we are marketing two communities together."
Look for the official Lewiston-Auburn branding effort to make its next move forward in April. That's when Morrison plans to ask both city councils if they can afford to fund the effort to find a new slogan and if they can afford to use it afterward.
"Both cities have to work with this," Morrison said. "These are tough economic times, so they need to decide if this effort is something they can support."
The community has to support the decision to brand itself and come up with a new slogan. At its most basic, that means money. The campaign that came up with "It's Happening Here" cost about $100,000. Most of that was paid by the two cities.
"We're a small organization," Morrison said. "We certainly can't finance a good marketing campaign by ourselves, and I really don't think we'd want to do that anyway."
It also means emotional support. The city councils, as well as residents and local businesses, would have to buy in to the idea.
"Even in a perfect world, if someone handed me a check for the whole thing and said, 'Do this,' what buy-in is there?," Morrison said. "You end up with well-meaning people taking potshots at it. But if they own it, they won't. They'll be participants in the entire process."
Morrison said he didn't have anything against the readers' suggestions in the Sun Journal's new slogan contest. He liked a few of them, in fact.
It's just that finding the right way to sell a community involves more than just a few magic words, he said. It takes an entire campaign based on an understanding of what the community has to sell and what people are willing to buy. Then, it's a matter of packaging that message in as few words as possible and finding a way to get it stuck in people's minds.
That's part of why the "It's Happening Here" campaign — and the "Cities of the Androscoggin" effort before it — worked.
"I think it stood the test of time," Morrison said. "People remember it — just like they did 'Cities of the Androscoggin.' You can still get people to sing that jingle today. But they were campaigns that ran with heavy television and advertising support. That's going to end up being what's important."
A hundred years ago...
In 1913, the Lewiston Chamber of Commerce launched a contest seeking a slogan that “best serves the purpose of advertising the city.”
The winning slogan — submitted by Everett Fogg — was “Lewiston: The Industrial Heart of Maine.”
A $20 gold coin.
In selecting that winner, the Lewiston chamber considered dozens of interesting (and entertaining) entries, including:
- The City of New Ideas
- Don’t Boast, Boost
- Equality for All; Privilege for None
- Humming City
- Metropolis of Western Maine
- Lewiston Looms: Boom Lewiston
- All Roads Lead to Lewiston on Bargain Day
- City That Does Things
- Idlers Keep Out. Hustlers Come and Enjoy Prosperity at Lewiston
- Energize Lewiston
- Fill the Spindle
- Approve, Appreciate, Lewiston
- Behold, “The Oasis of Maine,” Lewiston
- The Get There City
- Long Live Lewiston
- Lewiston: Maine’s Bee Hive
- The Overgrown Twin
- Lewiston: Maine’s One Best City
- Lewiston: The Diamond in the Rough
- Lewiston: The Key to Prosperity
- Lewiston: The Future Capital of Maine
- Began Doing Things in 1770, Hasn’t Stopped Since
- Old Falls, New Ideas
- Supremacy, Our Sin
- Onward ever, Lewiston
- Lewiston, Opulence
- Ah there, Lewiston!
- Stylish, Central, Snappy City
- City of Sense and Spunk
- City of Smiling Smartness
- The Electric City
- Klondike of Maine
- Lewiston: Maine’s Business Center
- Lucky, Plucky Lewiston
- If you Exist Somewhere, Come and Live at Lewiston
- Dirigo City of Empire
- Eastern. Enterprising. Emporium.