Cleveland + another Case of mistaken identity

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 04/27/2007 - 17:39.

$millions spent - outside advertising firm brought in - focus groups of kneeling cheerleaders and deer in headlights conducted - press conference in airplane - check, check, check and check. "NEO" leadership did it again. Another Case of mistaken identities, being those who hired those using outdated formulas to decide how to market our city to us and the world. Every identity mistaken, as plusers ask us to believe in them, and Case re-begets CWRU.

And, the identity these strange strangers created... Cleveland+!?*!?#!?*****. Please. I "believe in Cleveland' and believe we are "a plum", even if we still make mistakes by the lake, but I can't supersize that into love for "Cleveland+, or, even worse, ClevelandPlus.

I thought about Cleveland Plus, on and off, for the past two days, in the back of my head, like a headache. Why did I feel so sick. Perhaps I just didn't get the message from the cockpit: "keep your seat belt fastened... there will not be entertainment... we're just trying to get as many of you as possible from A to B, as efficiently as possible, and we will try not to crash". Lame? Yes! Who cares? really? But, still sick.

Then, I got an email from a stranger that made me think more about how my community is being presented to me and the world...

The idea to create a regional marketing campaign for NEO is awesome.  The campaign of Cleveland+ is atrocious.  Most of the people I know love Cleveland and crave an innovative concept to market our region.  They are all unanimous that it would be challenging to arrive at a worse campaign logo than this Cleveland+ concept.  It's not too late!  Please recognize this will not work and launch something else.  Stick-to-itiveness is not a good trait in this situation.   
Be brave and change course.  Use your influence to make it happen.

Now, I agree with all the points raised in this email. Cleveland Plus Sucks (a jingle, perhaps?), in words and graphics. Worse, the various Cleveland+ websites are disgraceful. Ugly, uninformative, full of typos and errors... as bad as web site production can be (not to mention the complete lack of creativity and technical and intellectual innovation).

But, why care if Cleveland Plus Sucks? Or, if the ODOT bridge plan sucks. Of, if we tear down the Breuer and historic buildings. Because we are Clevelanders, and we care about Cleveland. Certainly, Doner Advertising - our out-of-town +experts - are at fault for the overall failure of this campaign. But who is at fault for the overall embarrassment of this campaign. Usual suspects, too boring to mention... starts with GCP...

From the Cleveland+ website...: "hardworking people enjoy a fulfilling life here." That's another way of looking at the poorest city in America. Perhaps that is the problem... out of town +experts thinking a bit too hard about "hardworking people" who enjoy "a fulfilling life here" without knowing about Cleveland, or Northeaat Ohio. Kind'a reminds me of America Speaks for Northeast Ohio Voice and Choices. Didn't work.

Cleveland+... too boring to mention. Except, as my mystery email points out, "The campaign of Cleveland+ is atrocious". Do we kneel down to accept with appreciation this $-multi-million gift, or do we pursue the virtual NEO graffiti vandals responsible for further trashing our global cyberspace? What to do?

What do you think about this?

Be Real!

Words don't amount to anything

Brewed Fresh Daily has churned out everyone's collective disgust with the money and time spent by the Funders.  

I would love to see our region and these same funders champion a campaign to attract employers and employees to Northeast Ohio by having the best early childhood development/daycare programs in the country. 

No one wants to touch the request for collaboration that Norm reintroduced and one of the critical engines that drives our region.  Why are we collectively neglecting our most critical resource?


With the tagline--the best place to raise a child. 

Plain Dealer today claims that know one outside of NEO understands Neo...from the Greek prefix meaning new and different...I beg to differ.

Clearly I agree... NEO+us

NEO+ is, at 4,000,000, the second largest city in America, after New York. I agree it is an awesome word. It also works internationally - anyone can remember, say and spell it in their own language. If you consider what we are trying to market - new and different... global... North East Ohio - then branding around NEO+ makes sense. Of course we did just that, along with so many other people promoting the region - so much for the power elite recognizing a trend and opportunity and joining forces with an already popular movement. I would love for them to spend $9 million worldwide announcing a new community of NEO+, encompassing however many square miles of 13 counties and 4,000,000. Imagine the fun you could have with that - NEO+Cleveland, NEO+Akron, NEO+Youngstown, NEO+Education - the ultimate commitment to regionalism+

So I registed and .info (the other common versions are taken) - and will make them available for any collaborative efforts to straighten out this misbranding mess of Cleveland+

NEO+US is a great tagline I think the world will like.

Disrupt IT

a proposal for partitioning

I've been toying with the new "Cleveland+" concept for the past few days and have decided I really like the "+" part but find the "Cleveland" part pedestrian, limiting, exclusionary, and arrogant, all at the same time.

Partition it. Excise the "Cleveland", put it back where it belongs. Keep the "+". It's an easy thing for everyone to do with graffiti, to save on advertising costs, since they've spent a lot already, it seems.

We can then experiment with the concept of "plus" and give a new slant to the term "nonplus." A "+" is something good for all of us, a "non+" is something that detracts from all of us, or is not good for most of us.

The Fulton Road Bridge, it is turning out, is a solid non+, as is lead paint flaking off old houses and leaded gasoline in the soil, as is the brine they put on the streets that rusts the cars and ruins the bridges, making work for those other nonplusses, the new "made men" who do the contract work for the government and make wretchedly excessive political campaigns possible. This makes me think of the non+ idea of demolishing the Breuer Tower and handing the work to RP Carbone.

NOTACON at the Holiday Inn Lakeside this weekend was a + for the city; the show at the Wyndham was a + for a select few. The CVB promoted only the latter.

It's good to have the + tag, because either it is, or it isn't. You can quibble and niggle with gradients of the +-ness of something, but the scoring system has only two absolutes. If it can't be a + or a non+, then it doesn't exist, for all practical intents.

The big question is, will we have the temerity to begin telling people we hail from "The Big Plus"?


Admittedly I also, waited to react to this campaign.  Instinctively I wanted to like it but found myself in shear disbelief.  My immediate reaction was-what? Is this it?  Judging by the other reactions I see that I am not alone.  I guess I find myself continuously wondering why it is so hard to package this great city.  Are we really ready to begin to package and attach ourselves to other cities when we are not in a position to even market our own neighborhoods?  Shouldn’t/Maybe the Youngstown, Akron thing come much later.  Or better yet maybe that should be a STATE campaign.  Hello-Cleveland is the “+”. It seems that the really benefit may be to Youngstown and Canton.  Let's face it Akron has figured out the marketing thing....Art.  I'm not sure they really need us at this point. 

The real problem is that you have to really believe something in order to say it and put it out there.    Why?  Why…. don’t our community leaders get it?  You tell me who the plums are.  Maybe it's time that they Believe in Cleveland!!!!!!  We do -it is our City of Choice. 

City of Choice

I really like this "City of Choice" tag - haven't heard that one before. It is very true! The people I know here are here by choice... they chose to live in or near Cleveland.

I see one of the marketing problems being the push for regionalism, which I've always had issues with. Are we selling a region - 1,000s of square miles land - or a 77 square mile city of 100,000s of people, arts and culture. We are so hung up on supporting the few developers profiting from regional sprawl that we never get down to the business of growing our core. Yet the sprawl is only possible because of the strength of our core, and if the core fails the Xurbs will become relatively worthless, to those now living there (farmers, on the other hand, can make good use of the country).

Most of the powers that be here live in the xurbs and sold out this "City of Choice" long ago, if they ever bought into it in the first place, and now they are marketing from their bland Xurb experiences. What can they get excited about in Xurbia? Trees are magnificent, but no better here than everywhere else I've lived. Our Orchestra, and CIA, and your Convivium33 are globally important and unique to Cleveland, my "City of Choice"

Disrupt IT

Thanks Norm-Where else but

Thanks Norm-Where else but in this great City of Cleveland can a person buy/rehab a church? Oh -then make it a gallery.   Cleveland clearly is the land of opportunity even if you have to go against the grain -sometimes.  I think the message we have to help our community leaders understand is that talented and creative individuals have choices.  Hello..... shouldn’t that help them see that we are here for a reason? Those reasons are the key to why..... We build, others visit, many move and some stay.   WE GET IT and yes-we believe.  We as a City need to stop apologizing and start putting it out there.  It isn't about motivation.  It is about confidence, community and commitment.  Maybe the city should start this type of web interaction with individuals.  At least the ideas are Free!  Honestly--It shouldn't be this hard.  Ex: any one person who logs in to your site can rattle off (easily) 20 cool places to see/visit.    

Case +

We could have saved ourselves a lot of money by hiring our own for promotion .  See Case Observer article by Jeff Verespej.  Cleveland is on fire!  I love it!!!