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


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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-ga­zette.com or 412-263-1255.

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