Just go!

April 11th, 2016 Sections: Marketing, Tourism
Just go! (?) Photo: Facebook page

How’s that for a slogan? Just go! Photo: the Indy Guide Facebook page

The other day, a sponsored post appeared in my Facebook news feed … from the Indy Group, which  is “an open marketplace and the biggest network for local guides, tour operators and homestays in Central Asia and Mongolia.”

It consisted of a stunning photograph, (well, in my opinion it was a pretty good shot … capturing the beauty of the landscape and the spirit of the place very well), that was taken in the Jumgal region of the Naryn oblast here in Kyrgyzstan.  I depicted an open road disappearing into the distance, drawing the viewer into the picture towards the peaks of a mountain range on the horizon and an almost clear blue sky … with the slogan Just go!

My first thought was “great” … a great photo and a short catchy slogan – an imperative and a call to action.

But then I started to have second thoughts.

The trouble was that it also struck me as dismissive – as in “Go!, Go on!, Go now!, Just go!”.

Maybe I am showing my age, but I couldn’t help thinking of the Moody Blues song Go now, with its lyrics:

Oh you had better go now.
Go now. Go now. Go now.

… and of the Diana Ross / Gloria Gaynor song, I will survive, with it’s lyrics:

Go on now go, walk out the door
Just turn around now
‘Coz you’re not welcome anymore

… although I could imagine situations where the phrase may be used in a different, more positive, sense – such as:

… two friends discussing where they have been on holiday, looking at photographs and so on.  One, looking at photographs of the Kyrgyz mountains, hearing the other talk about the experiences of the traditional nomadic lifestyle of the Kyrgyz, and so on, says how it looks and sounds great … but they are not sure … do they have the time? … how does it fit in with their other plans?, and so on.

Faced with the dithering, the other enthusiastically encourages their friend to ‘go for it‘, and saying things like “Go and see for yourself” or … “Just go!

 

So, although the phrase works on one level, it also has unfortunate connotations.  Intellectually … OK, but the more I thought about it, the emotional loading of the phrase, (implying frustration and impatience), acquired greater significance.

 

Hmmm ... how does this work as a slogan?

Hmmm … how does this work as a logo and slogan?

 

In other circumstances, that would probably have been it and I wouldn’t have thought much more about it … but then I came across the new logo and slogan chosen for Rhode Island in the US: Cooler and Warmer,

… which replaced the previous Discover Beautiful Rhode Island

… and has come in for a lot of criticism.

The logo is reminiscent of a sail floating above a blue sea and billowing in a breeze, (… and remember that Newport, Rhode Island, claims to be the sailing capital of the world).

Among the criticisms that have poured in, however, are the fact it appears old fashioned with acrylic colours reminiscent of plastic furniture; that (apart from the ‘seaside’ connotations) it ignores the state’s scenic, cultural and historical heritage. By far the biggest criticisms, however, have been reserved for that slogan – Cooler and Warmer.

It is meant to imply that the state’s residents, Rhode Islanders, are both cool, (calm and composed, fashionably attractive), and at the same, warm, (as in friendly and open).  The trouble is that it is a pun (a play on words, drawing on the opposites) and apart from the climatic connotations, (which was my first thought when I saw it), it presents a conundrum – a puzzle … because the two are opposites.  Intellectually, it might work … but it is confusing … and, I suspect, is unlikely to attract potential tourists.

Add to that the promotional materials have included shots of Iceland, restaurants from across the state border in Massachusetts and even even restaurants that have closed down … the whole campaign has come in for a certain amount of ridicule.

Allegedly, they paid five million dollars – but for the campaign, not just for the logo and slogan – which seems a little excessive, even if it was to the guy (company) who came up with the famously successful I NY campaign which has been copied around the world.

 

In a way, that sums up how I felt about Just go!  Intellectually, it works … on some levels, at least … but is confusing and presents conflicting signals … and, so, is unlikely be attractive … or, I wonder, am I just being too analytical?, too critical?

At least Just go! hasn’t cost five million dollars!

 

As an aside: At one time there was a sign at Manas airport in Bishkek which cheerfully informed visitors arriving on international flights: “You’re welcome to Kyrgyzstan!

It was a good thought … but instead of simply saying “Welcome to Kyrgyzstan!” … they just had to add the “You’re …” in front of it.  Although the intention was to imply that Visitors are welcome in Kyrgyzstan, the phrase “you’re welcome to it …” has unfortunate connotations … implying something like “… I don’t want it … take it!“.

If only the sign had said something like: “You’re always welcome in Kyrgyzstan!” or “We welcome you to Kyrgyzstan!” or almost anything apart from “You’re welcome to Kyrgyzstan!

Fortunately, the ‘penny must have dropped’ … or someone must have said something … because the sign wasn’t there for long.

 

 

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