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Mapes, Jeff
(Portland) Oregonian; 1 December 2003
State’s new ad slogan highlights idealism

The Beaver State has a new advertising slogan: "Oregon. We Love Dreamers."

The tagline will be unveiled today by Gov. Ted Kulongoski's office as part of a campaign to more aggressively market the state.

The slogan—which replaces the old "things look different here" catchphrase—was devised by Wieden+Kennedy, the well-known Portland advertising firm that invented "Just Do It" for Nike.

The "dreamers" slogan and a series of sample ads, which will be presented at an Oregon business summit today in Portland, are designed for a wide variety of purposes, including tourism, business recruitment and state-product marketing.

Dan Wieden, one of the ad firm's founders, said the campaign is built around the "basic sense of idealism" that defines the Oregon culture. As a result, the advertising extols Oregon innovations such as publicly owned beaches as well as the notion that you can find a man in a suit and a man in dreadlocks side-by-side on a bus, chatting pleasantly.

The drive to intensify the state's marketing efforts stemmed from a recommendation that came out of an inaugural business summit a year ago. Organized by the Oregon Business Council, the event focused on finding ways to improve the state's economy. More than 1,000 business and political leaders from around Oregon are expected to attend the follow-up conference today.

Debby Kennedy, marketing director for the Port of Portland, is heading the "Brand Oregon" project out of the governor's office, and she said few, if any, states are trying to develop a marketing plan that is as far-reaching.

The idea, she said, is to create a buzz about Oregon by developing a consistent theme across a wide variety of advertising. Kennedy said she envisions a software executive in the Bay Area someday seeing an Oregon business recruitment ad in a workplace publication, going home and reading a tourism ad in a consumer magazine, then spotting an Oregon agriculture display in a supermarket produce section.

Some money for the advertising campaign will come from a new tourism tax on lodging, and Kennedy said several Oregon companies also have agreed to contribute financially. It is not yet certain how much money will be spent. The ads are expected to start appearing by spring.

In part, the campaign is designed to erase the image connected with what has seemed to be Oregon's unofficial slogan: former Gov. Tom McCall's famous visit-but-don't-stay remark from 1971.

Kulongoski recently told a group of venture capitalists that he was eager for people and businesses to move to Oregon. "We want you to visit, but we prefer that you buy a one-way ticket," he said.

One of the new sample ads, headlined "Come For a Week, Stay Forever," promotes the idea that tourists quickly realize what a great place the state is to live in.

The campaign also is aimed at improving a state image battered by high unemployment, budget cuts and frequent political stalemate. The "things look different here" slogan was developed just for tourism use, but it also was often ridiculed.

Kennedy, who is not connected with Wieden+Kennedy, said she hopes the new slogan fares better and is seen as just a part of the state's new marketing strategy.

"It would be very disappointing for people to go away from this thinking that this is about the tagline," Kennedy said. "Because it is really much more about the message, the tone of voice, the attitude, the emotions, all that sort of thing."

Several Oregonians waiting to watch a downtown Portland parade Friday morning had favorable comments about a sample ad.

"It's fluffy, it's nice," said Andy Clark, a federal affairs officer at Portland State University. "The dream state, sure."

Portlander Ann Vrabel, waiting with her family to watch her son march in the parade, said the "dreamers" line initially sounded like, "Oregon, we have a lot of space cadets here." But after reading the copy, she said she liked the message that Oregonians "aren't afraid to be a little different."

Jack McGowan, executive director of Oregon SOLV, an antilitter group that McCall founded, said the new slogan makes it sound like "Oregon is kind of tilting at windmills, doing the impossible dream." "Maybe," he added, "that's what we are trying to do."

Jack Roberts, who ran for governor last year and now heads the Eugene-Springfield area's economic development agency, said he liked the slogan but was concerned about some of the ad copy that suggests Oregon has done a better job than other states in preserving its natural beauty.

"I would not try to praise Oregon by running down the rest of the country," said Roberts, explaining that the appeal could come off as elitist.

Alison Rusen, a Wieden+Kennedy copywriter who worked on the advertising, said the campaign is different from the marketing done by most states, especially the standard sun-and-sand tourism commercial.

"We're telling a story about Oregon, about our philosophy here and why it's special and unique," she said. "We're not just trying to say you can relax here."

Copyright (c) 2003 Oregonian Publishing Co.

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