Gary Rotstein’s The Morning File: Slogan must be mighty beautiful to lure tourists

Share with others:

Print Email Read Later

Pitts­burgh. Mighty. Beau­ti­ful.

Those three words, sans verb or con­junc­tion, rep­resent the slo­gan used in the lo­cal tour­ism pro­mo­tion agency’s cur­rent mar­ket­ing, as in, “Pitts­burgh has been a mighty city with tre­men­dous in­dus­trial out­put in the past, which is no lon­ger the case, but it’s sur­pris­ingly beau­ti­ful to­day.”

Or it could be in­ter­preted as just a more clipped man­ner of say­ing, “Pitts­burgh is mighty beau­ti­ful … n’at.” (It no doubt saves mil­lions in ad­ver­tis­ing space costs by elim­i­nat­ing the “is,” which is con­sis­tent with Pitts­bur­ghers’ habit of drop­ping other forms of “to be,” as in, “Pitts­burgh’s im­age needs fixed.”)

Either way, VisitPitts­burgh is aim­ing to at­tract at­ten­tion far and wide with a new na­tional ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paign un­veiled last week. It’s not as if we’ve been ig­nored of late, but the tour­ism agency is not one to sit back and rest on its near-Lau­rel High­lands lau­rels. It is also not shy­ing away from our blue-col­lar past, no mat­ter how that shade of blue has faded from to­day’s work­force.

“Our rust belt im­pres­sion that we want so badly to shed ac­tu­ally is a good thing for us,” VisitPitts­burgh CEO Craig Davis said ear­lier this year. “The fo­cus groups told us time and time again that that blue col­lar im­pres­sion is all-Amer­i­can and un­pre­ten­tious, which is a good thing for us. It means we’re ap­proach­able and friendly.”

Nat­u­rally, we’re friend­li­est of all to peo­ple who have money. At its most re­cent an­nual meet­ing, VisitPitts­burgh touted an­tic­i­pated spend­ing of $201 mil­lion in the lo­cal econ­omy from 590 meet­ings and con­ven­tions that had been booked.

The Travel Chan­nel has al­ready dubbed us a great 2014 place to va­ca­tion, and Conde Nast Trav­eler’s UK edi­tion re­port­edly will trum­pet us in a No­vem­ber ar­ti­cle ti­tled, “Why Pitts­burgh is Hip.”

Not long ago, of course, a mag­a­zine piece would have been more likely head­lined, “Why Pitts­bur­ghers Have So Many Ar­ti­fi­cial Hips.” (The com­bi­na­tion of the age of the cit­i­zenry, the hilly ter­rain and the steps of our old dwell­ings must be great for hip and knee re­place­ment prof­i­teers, er, sur­geons.)

All of the at­ten­tion is great, as it means we’ve al­ready lined up these fu­ture gath­er­ings of peo­ple com­mit­ted to com­ing here, re­gard­less of any bad pub­lic­ity that might arise in the in­terim. That’s a big as­set if we’re on the verge of an ep­i­demic of car-swal­low­ing sink­holes such as the one in Ross -- a pros­pect that would be the ba­sis for an ex­cel­lent Pitts­burgh-based di­sas­ter movie star­ring Jake Gyl­len­haal as the driver of a Lyft car trapped un­der­ground with a pink mus­tache. (Either he or the car could have the mus­tache; doesn’t mat­ter.)

No mat­ter what hap­pens, we’ve al­ready lined up, for in­stance, the 8th In­ter­na­tional Sym­po­sium on Su­per­al­loy 718 and De­riv­a­tives, com­ing Sept. 28-Oct. 1 to the Mar­ri­ott City Center. (Met­al­lur­gists, as you know, like to point out that Smokey Robin­son and the Mir­a­cles orig­i­nally con­sid­ered call­ing them­selves Su­per­al­loy 718 and the De­riv­a­tives be­fore copy­right con­cerns forced a change.)

We’re not ex­actly sure what Su­per­al­loy 718 is, as it be­came hard to keep mem­o­riz­ing su­per­al­loys when they got above 600 (just like we find it hard to de­scribe the dif­fer­ent pur­poses of the Bill of Rights amend­ments af­ter the first and sec­ond), but we can say with con­fi­dence that the fans of Su­per­al­loy 718 will add ev­ery bit as much fun and color to the Down­town land­scape as do the an­nual Fur­ries. (If only we could get the two groups to­gether, but that’s a tour­ist pro­mo­tion dream to tackle an­other year.)

We ac­knowl­edge that “Pitts­burgh. Mighty. Beau­ti­ful.” is pretty good as such slo­gans go, far su­pe­rior to this one a VisitPitts­burgh pre­de­ces­sor in the 1880s adopted: “Pitts­burgh. Tre­men­dously. Un­healthy.” The only down­side to any new slo­gan is the short shelf life they seem to have. As soon as peo­ple get used to one, it’s in­vari­ably time for an­other, so that the re­gion keeps sound­ing fresh and re­gain­ing at­ten­tion.

With that in mind, we’ll gra­ciously throw out these vari­a­tions for VisitPitts­burgh to con­sider us­ing once “Pitts­burgh. Mighty. Beau­ti­ful.” wears out its wel­come:

“Pitts­burgh. Unusu­ally. Left-Turn-Friendly.”

“Pitts­burgh. Pretty. Over­weight.”

“Pitts­burgh. Ex­tremely. Nostal­gic.”

“Pitts­burgh. In­sanely. Sports-Ob­sessed.”

“Pitts­burgh. Un­for­tu­nately. Cli­mate-Chal­lenged.”

Gary Rot­stein: grot­stein@post-ga­ or 412-263-1255.

Join the conversation:

Commenting policy | How to report abuse
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.
Commenting policy | How to report abuse

Create a free PG account.
Already have an account?

You have 2 remaining free articles this month

Try unlimited digital access

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here

You’ve reached the limit of free articles this month.

To continue unlimited reading

If you are an existing subscriber,
link your account for free access. Start here