"World's Greatest City
of the Arts and Outdoors"

Eugene's actual slogan for a few years

update: now it's a "Great City"


marketing to boost real estate values for snaring Californian transplants

The City of Eugene’s marketing campaign to pretend it is the "World’s Greatest City of the Arts and Outdoors" and America’s “number one” green city is embarrassing to those watching the city continue business as usual (along with some secondary policies that are making small shifts). The “arts and outdoors” slogan might be more accurate if applied to the Oregon Country Fair but it is a delusional description for Eugene, especially when many other cities (such as Portland, OR) have more vibrant arts communities and more protected open space.

from the wikipedia entry on "puffery":
The United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) defined puffery as a “term frequently used to denote the exaggerations reasonably to be expected of a seller as to the degree of quality of his product, the truth or falsity of which cannot be precisely determined.” [1]
The FTC stated in 1984 that puffery does not warrant enforcement action by the Commission. In its FTC Policy Statement on Deception, the Commission stated: "The Commission generally will not pursue cases involving obviously exaggerated or puffing representations, i.e., those that the ordinary consumers do not take seriously."
Federal Trade Commission Policy Statement on Deception, 103 F.T.C. 174 (1984), appended to Cliffdale Assoc. Inc., 103 F.T.C. 110 (1984).
^ Better Living, Inc. et al., 54 F.T.C. 648 (1957), aff’d, 259 F.2d 271 (3rd Cir. 1958).

City leaders admit it's fake

Bob Welch: Oregonians still quotable as ever in '06
Columnist, The Register-Guard
Published: Thursday, December 28, 2006

"We in marketing never worry about accuracy."
- Dave Funk, of Funk, Levis and Associates regarding the new Eugene slogan "World's Greatest City for the Arts & Outdoors."

Eugene's business community is healthy, vibrant and growing
Published: Wednesday, January 24, 2007

... we are not, in fact, the "World's Greatest City of the Arts and Outdoors.''

Dave Hauser is president of the 1,200-member Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce.


A Plea for a Song
Eugene Opera could lose Hult Center residency status.

... Ever since Eugene City Council adopted the slogan "World's Greatest City of the Arts and Outdoors," that phrase has been bandied about by folks on both sides of the arts funding argument. At a recent meeting with representatives of the arts community, Mayor Kitty Piercy spoke of the need for humility when discussing that slogan. "When you say the world's greatest city, I think we all understand that is an aspiration versus a reality," she said.

But one of the key elements already in place for living up to that slogan is the existence of so many local performing arts companies. Other cities Eugene's size might have one such company, maybe a symphony or a ballet. Eugene has the Eugene Symphony, Eugene Opera, Eugene Ballet, Mozart Players, Eugene Concert Choir, Willamette Repertory Theatre, Oregon Bach Festival and The Shedd. That's not even counting all the local theater companies, musical groups and performing arts organizations that aren't affiliated with the Hult Center. Yet at a time when the city is sinking a quarter million dollars into figuring out how to live up to the slogan "The Greatest … ," we're looking at losing one of our oldest arts institutions.

"World's greatest … if that were the case, CSAC would have had some heart," Siegel said. "The world's greatest city of the arts and outdoors doesn't really support the arts."

Arts groups by any other name don't boost Eugene
For The Register-Guard
Published: Thursday, October 5, 2006

... Eugene was Alsop's first significant orchestra post. Since leaving Oregon, Alsop has been striding through the conducting world. She's led the Colorado Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the City of London Sinfonia.
While still at Bournemouth, she is the controversial new conductor of the Baltimore Symphony. After a recent appearance with the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam - one the best orchestras in the world - you could say Alsop is nearing the top.
Good press for the World's Greatest City of the Arts and Outdoors, right? Not exactly.
At the time of this writing, Eugene is nowhere to be found on Alsop's Web site. Nor is it mentioned in her bios at Colorado or Bournemouth. Eugene has been written out of her conducting history.
Why doesn't Eugene merit a mention in a big-time bio? Several local music groups decided to forgo use of the word Eugene also. There's the Oregon Bach Festival, Oregon Festival of American Music, Oregon Mozart Players and Oregon String Quartet.
Many local musicians say that "Oregon" implies a wider world than "Eugene." Privately, some admit that "Eugene" lacks class.

Motivation: to sell more real estate to new transplants

This dynamic city is the hub of Oregon's second largest metropolitan area and home to the University of Oregon. Eugene is touted as the "World's Greatest City of the Arts and Outdoors" for its abundance of arts and culture, passion for sports and recreation, and reputation as Track Town USA.

[note: the owners of "live in eugene" complained that their website was mentioned on this site, but that still doesn't reduce the bizarreness of a town's boosters using this silly slogan]

Where this nonsense came from

The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date: Dec 21, 2006


Byline: Diane Dietz The Register-Guard

Was Eugene hoodwinked last year when the city was sold on the slogan "Eugene: World's Greatest City for the Arts & Outdoors"?

Some civic leaders are admitting chagrin when they look back on how they were swept up in Robb Hankins' enthusiasm for his creation.

Like some real life "Music Man," Hankins swept in from Austin, Texas, to run the Hult Center for two seasons before he moved on to Canton, Ohio, for more arts promotion.

While here, Hankins proved himself a great pitchman.

Hankins thought up the slogan, flashed it on the Hult Center reader board 259,000 times, sold it to the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce, readied the bandwagon for the Convention and Visitors Association and landed the Eugene Airport.

Then, in 2005, Hankins persuaded the Eugene City Council into a rare show of unanimity to adopt his slogan on an 8-0 vote.

"He got everybody all excited about this," City Councilor Jennifer Solomon said. "He lined up a whole bunch of people to talk to us about it."

Now, Hankins is gone and Eugene seems like a kid standing in the dust of River City with a tuba weighing on its shoulders and no one to teach it how to play.

Hankins loved his brainchild, said David Hauser, president of the Eugene Area Chamber of commerce.

"He painted a compelling picture," he said. "That's one of the problems. I don't know if it has the same (kind of) champion behind it (now) - even though organizations have adopted it."

Some Eugeneans were appalled with the slogan the moment they heard the boast: "World's Greatest ..."

Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts founder Alex Brokaw cringed. KWAX classical music program Director Caitriona Bolster winced.

Hankins' idea was "ludicrous," Bolster said. "It was like, `Ouch.' He needs to get out more."

Hauser said a new slogan would be a good Christmas gift for the city. He proposed the change at the last City Club of Eugene meeting. Ninety percent of the audience indicated that they hadn't quite embraced the slogan either.

Ginevra Ralph said city boosters asked The Shedd to print the "World's Greatest" slogan on all of their marketing materials.

She said the language that comes to her mind when she thinks of the situation is too blue for the newspaper.

"We said, listen: `We have to send things to New York all the time. We're not putting that on our marketing.' We're going to be the laughingstock," she said.

"It's embarrassing. Let's face it," said Don Bishoff, a former Register-Guard columnist and current political aide.

New York, Paris, London, Vienna and Rome may have a greater claim than Eugene to world city for the arts. Telluride, Boulder, and Santa Fe might challenge Eugene for scenic beauty.

And Salzburg, Austria - which calls itself Stage of the World - has boasting rights for its famous son, Mozart, and soaring mountain peaks. Remember the scenery in "The Sound of Music?"

But writer, blogger and political observer Don Kahle, who likes Hankins' slogan, said people overlook its most crucial word: "and." Eugene is not world's greatest for arts or world's greatest for outdoors, he said. It's the combination.

Besides, in some instances, accuracy is a highly overrated quality, said Dave Funk, marketer with Funk/Levis & Associates.

"We in marketing never worry about accuracy," he said. "Accurate would be something like the words 'OK city of the arts and the outdoors.' That would be plain boring."

Eugene is not the only city to fall for a fairly silly slogan under the spell of a consultant who comes promising an all-new, fresh and alluring image.

Seattle, for instance, recently adopted: "Metronatural."

And Wenatchee, Wash., ditched its crisp "Apple Capital" for a mushy "Wenatchee: Meeting Rivers. Meeting Friends. Meeting Needs."

Cities are desperately trying to diversify their economies, especially cities trying to outlast the crippled timber industry.

They're trying to recruit new businesses, sell locally made products and entice tourists - "create a buzz" in the sales industry parlance.

"Cities have to compete and they've learned from business that, to be competitive, they have to have a strong brand: discernible personality and position and even promise," said Funk, the marketer.

But Funk says "The World's Greatest City for the Arts and Outdoors" is a perfectly serviceable - and even lovely - slogan.

The average Eugenean is bombarded with 3,500 advertising messages per day - 556 are direct appeals, and the rest is the ad copy, product shapes and logos people constantly encounter, Funk said.

One morning, Funk said he encountered 58 different advertising messages in his bathroom in the time it took him to shower and shave. "That's like within a half hour. I take quick showers."

A slogan has got to be bold to break through the babble, he said. "Otherwise, there's no point."

Hankins' slogan will grow on the city, Funk predicts. "It is so obviously tongue in cheek it feels like the personality of our city - or the personality our city should have. It's cheeky and fun and aspirational."

Some people argue that what Eugene most needs is some chutzpah, as they say in New York.

"Muhammad Ali went around claiming he was the greatest long before he was the greatest. But then he worked hard to back it up. Maybe that's what you need to do - be a little boastful and overreaching," said Jack Roberts, executive director of the Lane Metro Partnership.

Hyperbole fits Houston, sure, but the question is, does it really fit Eugene?

It doesn't feel natural to Hauser, the chamber president. "I'm a transplanted Midwesterner, so I would always err on the side of humility," he said.

Bolster, too, is squirming: "There's not a bone in my body that gravitates to that kind of thinking," she said.

John Ebeling, Sandpiper auto repair shop owner, said the city needs a new slogan that's not too complicated.

"We've got good restaurants and good grocery stores. We have a mild climate - you know what's good about living here," he said. "This is a place where you can live a good life."

The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Oct 9, 2005

Outgoing arts boss: On Eugene, slogans and 'fixing' the Hult

Bob Keefer The Register-Guard

On Robb Hankins' last day as Eugene's cultural services director, we interrupted his packing to ask him to talk about art, culture and city government.

Hankins, 59, is headed to northeast Ohio, where he will become president and CEO of Arts in Stark, a countywide arts council. He's worked here two years.

On the day he was interviewed, he was wearing a T-shirt with the slogan he recently persuaded the City Council to adopt for Eugene:

"The World's Greatest City for the Arts and Outdoors.''

Question: How did you come up with the slogan?

Answer: As I was working around the country as a consultant, I landed in Austin, Texas, for a while. The first speech I gave here, I said Austin, Texas, had identified itself as the live music capital of the world.

And it all happened because of a remarkable woman I never met, but just heard about, who decided to go to the chamber of commerce, to go to the tourism bureau, and just get everyone to celebrate Austin as a live music center.

So that's what I decided to do.

I looked around, I looked around, I looked around, and said, "OK, how can I come up with a bold statement I can defend?''

Unfortunately, I have been accused of being a terrible marketer. Because it's the world's longest slogan. In my defense, I am also proposing Hult 25'' for the 25th birthday party of the Hult Center.

I wanted "World's Greatest'' in there. I was wavering between "America's Greatest" and "World's Greatest." So I decided to go for broke. But the two values that are utterly unique and constant everywhere you go in Eugene are a celebration of creativity, what I would call the arts, and a reverence for the environment and outdoors.

Question: What do you think is holding us back from realizing our potential as an arts center?

Answer: I would just share with you the challenges I ran into as I tried to convince people to use this slogan and celebrate it, culminating with the City Council two weeks ago.

The responses were, "This is too arrogant. It's too proud."

The culture here tends to be modest. It's hard to be arrogant and bold. People do great things, but they don't flaunt them in the Pacific Northwest.

This is a great slogan because it's flexible and has a sense of humor. If you're shy you can say, "Eugene, city of the arts and outdoors." If you have more gusto you can say, "Eugene, greatest city of the arts and outdoors." If you know it's true you can go for broke and say, "World's greatest city of the arts and outdoors."

And if you're verbose, you can add some words. You can say, "World's greatest city of the arts and outdoors - for its size.''

Question: What can be done to fix the Hult Center?

Answer: It's interesting you should say "fix." Those are the words people use in private. We need to "fix" the Hult Center.

A couple things. First of all, the next person they hire needs to be a performing arts center expert. Which I'm not - and didn't pretend to be. I am a community arts development guy. I do all the arts.

There are a couple of challenges that need to be fixed. First of all, the Hult Center can't fund raise. And I'm a fundraiser. One of the things that tipped me off that I might not be a great fit here is when I discovered, about four weeks into my tenure, that I can't fund raise. This may be the only performing arts center in America that can't fund raise. It's not a legal issue. It's a gentleman's agreement that's been signed - in quotes - with the resident companies and backed by City Council, the mayor and city manager, that the Hult Center will never compete.

When I had my first meeting with the resident companies one of them said, ``Well, Robb, I just want to remind you you're not going to be fundraising here.'' In 1998, when the last property-tax measure passed, there was an $800,000 reduction to this operation. The Hult has never recovered from that. One of the things it's going to take to fix the Hult Center is there needs to be more city money - and there will never be enough city money - so there needs to be a combination of more city money and taking off the handcuffs and allow the Hult Center to fund raise.

Question: The Hult Center's Jacobs Gallery has been successful as a public-private hybrid. Is that the way to go?

Answer: You can't run a performing arts center inside city hall. It needs more flexibility. It needs more creativity. It needs to make decisions faster.

If you put aside all the gobbledegook, here is an all-public arts center, there is an all-private arts center, somewhere in the middle is a public-private performing arts center that is allowed to fund raise. And some of its functions - not all of its functions - are privatized.

There needs to be a new Hult Center business model. I just hope by next summer it's done.

Question: You and your (Jamaican-American) wife have been a biracial couple in Eugene. What's that been like?

Answer: As weird as it sounds, the only problems we have heard about are those we've read about in The Register-Guard.

Question: So Claudette is not going to become part of the ``Exit Files''?

Answer: No. In fact, there are lots of tears in our neighborhood because Claudette has made so many good friends. We have had no problems.

Question: Are there too many artists in Eugene?

Answer: I used to work in a town where they joked you could throw a rock in any direction and hit an artist. In this town, that's true.

Even though I don't have much hair left, the person who cuts my hair, I've got to mention, to me he is the epitome: Don Rich. He is a painter and a musician. He came to Eugene so he could survive and paint and make music. Artists like Eugene. Why hasn't Eugene taken that expansiveness of art here and used it as an asset? In my opinion, it hasn't done that.

Question: What would be your advice to your successor?

Answer: It's absolutely imperative the Hult Center gets fixed. The city currently puts virtually every single penny of the transient room tax into the Hult Center. And while the Hult Center needs the money, you can't just fix the Hult Center by putting money into it. It needs a better business model.

This Cultural Services Division is 99.9 percent the Hult Center. You can call it Cultural Services. In reality it's the Hult Center. The performing arts center expert who comes in next needs to fight very hard for the Hult to fund raise to get more city support, and to come up with a business model that makes this place stronger.


Robb Hankins stops by Denis Grace's bronze sculpture in the Mayor's Art Show at the Hult Center's Jacobs Gallery. Hankins is leaving his job as Eugene's cultural services director, which involves running the Hult. ``To fix the Hult Center ... there needs to be a combination of more city money and taking off the handcuffs and allow the Hult Center to fund raise.''- ROBB HANKINS, OUTGOING EUGENE CULTURAL SERVICES DIRECTOR

City promotes delusional slogan as marketing for flights to Las Vegas, the epicenter of wishful thinking


March 8, 2007


(Eugene, Ore.) - What happens in Vegas, may stay in Vegas, but it will soon start in Eugene, Ore. as Allegiant Air today announces new nonstop jet-service to Las Vegas, Nev. beginning May 10. To kick off the new service, the Las Vegas-based, low-fare airline is offering limited introductory fares as low as $59* one-way.

"We are extremely pleased to extend the Allegiant brand of low-fare, nonstop jet service to the Eugene community," Maurice J. Gallagher, Allegiant Air president & CEO, said. "This is an exciting new addition for our airline and our customers as we launch the only full-size jet service between Eugene and Las Vegas."

The new flights will operate twice weekly between Eugene Airport and McCarran International Airport (Las Vegas), with service Thursday and Sunday. Beginning May 10, flights will depart Eugene at 11:05 a.m. arriving in Las Vegas at 1 p.m. Flights leaving Las Vegas will depart at 8:30 a.m. arriving in Eugene at 10:25 a.m. (all flight times are local).

"This is a great opportunity to link Eugene, the World's Greatest City of the Arts and Outdoors, with one of the most popular vacation destinations in the west," said Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy. "We welcome Allegiant Air."