I'm not sensing a lot of enthusiasm for the state's new tourism slogan, "Restart Your Engines."
Wait. What am I saying? What I sense is some outright hostility because the state paid $85,000 for this clunker, then was so tone deaf as to unveil it right after the income tax deadline, setting off a wave of "Your tax dollars at work" jokes in newspapers, blogs and coffee shops.
So here we are in May, at the start of another tourist season, stuck with another dopey slogan. "Restart Your Engines"? It seems incomplete, as if there's another shoe yet to drop: "Restart Your Engines." And prepare to fire photon torpedoes."
Oh, well. I guess they can't all be goldmedal winners like "Enjoy Indiana."
To tell the truth, "Restart Your Engines" probably isn't the worst state tourism slogan in history. That honor might go to Idaho, where the slogan used to be "Great Potatoes." Yes, indeed. Idaho-the land of side dishes.
Or Louisiana, for its vaguely disturbing "Come As You Are; Leave Different," which for some reason brings to mind a kid in a tree playing the banjo.
Or Montana, for "Travel Montana" (brought to you by the geniuses who came up with "Wander Indiana").
I've been looking over state slogans and, you know, they're not all bad. People all over the country know "Virginia Is For Lovers" or "I Love New York." Nevada's "Wide Open" is appropriate in more ways than one. New Mexico's "Land of Enchantment" is a classic and Hawaii has a nice one in "The Islands Of Aloha," although you'll most likely have to go there to see it on the license plates.
Some are good AND bad. New Jersey says, "Come See For Yourself." This is a good idea in Cape May, a bad one in Camden.
But if their job is to get people to come visit, I wonder how much good these slogans do. Does the state really think some guy will be sitting at a kitchen table in Pennsylvania, poring over tourist brochures, when suddenly he'll spy Indiana's, leap from his chair and yell, "Grab the kids and pack the minivan, Mother! We're going to Indiana to 'Restart Our Engines'!"
Or maybe they think that next time The Guv goes to the other side of the world to make a Mitch Pitch, this will be the clincher. After all, any state can offer tax abatements, but how many can hand out "Restart Your Engines" refrigerator magnets? The best Indiana slogan is the one we can't use: "South Bend is in the north, North Vernon is in the south, and French Lick isn't what you think." It might work, though, if we start making license plates 7 feet wide. Because it is wrong to point out a problem without also offering a solution, and because I am a native filled with the spirit of Helpful Hoosierness-and also because I clearly do not have enough to do-I offer my services as a catchy slogan writer. Here are some of my ideas: Come For The Race. Stay For The Other Race. And Then The One After That. Baja Michigan. You Get Your Choice Of The Chicken And Noodles, Or The Tenderloin Sandwich. We're Saving Daylight! Like The Roads? Ask About Our E-Z Payment Plan. Come Here. Buy Stuff. Go Home. A State With A Far More Interesting Shape Than, Say, Wyoming. Did You See "Hoosiers"? It's Like That, Sort Of. Save Room For Pie! Keeping Ohio From Crashing Into Illinois Since 1816. Fast Cars, Slow Metabolisms. Better Than Mississippi, In Most Measurable Ways. Many Famous People Passed Through Here On Their Way To Someplace Else. Let's Gawk At The Amish. Wanna Play Euchre? Pardon Our Meth. I'm joking, obviously. I figure people are going to visit here for all the customary reasons: to see an event or attraction, to visit family, to show the kids where Mom and Dad went to college before getting degrees and moving away. And then there will be the folks who wind up here because of that old standby, car trouble. However it happens, I doubt our rootytoot $85,000 slogan will have much to do with it. But I do think that whoever drops in will find this an agreeable state, for the most part. There are worse places (see above Re: Mississippi). Which brings me to my final slogan idea: Indiana-Oh, Come On. Why Not? Next time we need a slogan, let's try it. Either that, or let's all get 7-foot license plate brackets.
Mike Redmond is an author, columnist and speaker, and a consultant on business writing and workplace issues. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.