Gary Rotstein’s The Morning File: Slogan must be mighty beautiful to lure tourists
August 18, 2014 12:00 AM
Craig Davis, CEO of VisitPittsburgh, touts its new ad campaign.
By Gary Rotstein / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
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:
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