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New "Epic" Tourism Campaign Deserves A Better Slogan

By Jim Bochnowski in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 14, 2015 10:00PM

Yesterday the city of Chicago released a new tourism campaign ad with a tagline that had me less than enthused. According to the Tribune, Choose Chicago, the city's convention and tourism bureau, will pay $2.2 million to have this ad broadcasted on DirecTV, "employing technology to serve ads only to households that have been identified as potential urban travelers through data analysis."

So how is the ad? Let's watch!

Starting with a quote from city planner Daniel Burnham spoken by a man who appears to be auditioning for a reboot of Bill Swerski's Superfans, the ad scrolls through a number of famous Chicago sites— Grant Park during Lollapalooza, North Avenue beach, Wrigley Field, the Chicago Theater with a nice little shout-out to Andrew Bird. So far so good!

But then comes the last line, the slogan of the ad.

"Be part of something epic. Chicago" The screen flashes the words "Chicago. Epic." along with the hashtag #ChicagoEpic before fading to black.

Of all the words you could use to describe Chicago, why would "Epic" be your pick for a tagline? Granted, I'm not some sort of fancy highly paid ad consultant, but the word the official tourism representatives for the City chose is a phrase usually thrown around by drunk bros to describe everything marginally interesting that occurs, a word that has lost all of its meaning in the Internet era.

You can almost hear the target audience of this ad say out loud "This pizza is epic, bro!" "This beach is epic!" "Bro, that Andrew Bird concert at the Chicago Theater was SO EPIC." (Editor's Note: We've been to our fair share of Andrew Bird concert and we have yet to see a bro yelling "epic" at any of them. Let's keep it that way, Chicago.) That is not the type of tourist that visits Chicago (maybe the type that comes to visit Wrigley Field or to Lollapalooza, but I digress). People come to Chicago for the Art Institute, the Field Museum, the beautiful architecture, the bright sunny days, the amazing food and our famously warm Midwestern hospitality. Would you call any of that "epic" in the most popular use of the word? Sure, the classical definition fits but when "EPIC FAIL" is common slang for many, why not pick a better adjective? There are plenty of words to choose from.

I appreciate the difficulty of branding, which must be truly maddening and consist solely of buzzwords (this is how I imagine every branding meeting, to be perfectly clear). However, by using the word "epic," Choose Chicago is trying to stay young and hip while all the while really showing how out of touch they really are. Call it the Poochie Effect. So please, Choose Chicago, the city and residents deserve so many adjectives to be used to describe us before "epic" even attempts to butt into the conversation. Unless you're secretly trying to drive away tourists, in which case, hey, at least my commute will be easier.