November 15, 2005

Friday, Atlanta officials revealed our city’s new slogan: "Atlanta: Every day is an opening day."

Are you kidding? That is the reaction I had after hearing it. And most of Atlanta did, too.

Every day is opening day sounds like a slogan for the Atlanta Braves. But the post-season record of the Braves is nothing to brag about.

Everyday is an opening day could be said about almost anyplace from Yankee Stadium to the Las Vegas strip.

Atlanta’s new slogan is like most advertising slogans you see these days. It’s totally meaningless and unrelated to the brand. It doesn’t say anything or reinforce anything about Atlanta.

Atlanta must have hired a team from Coca-Cola. They have been responsible for many of the silliest slogans here in town.

• Always.

• Enjoy.

• Life Tastes Good.

Actually the tagline’s creator was Grey Worldwide Atlanta. The agency said the new slogan was designed to reflect the feeling of anticipation one gets when something they have been waiting for finally happens.

A powerful advertising campaign takes advantage of what is already in the mind and then reinforces that idea. A powerful advertising concept is almost never an abstract idea.

Why do agencies continue to generate and sell such unmemorable ideas? Because agencies focus on creativity rather than effectiveness. They search for what’s new and different rather than an idea that’s already established.

No agency got paid millions for telling a brand to use an idea already in the mind. And furthermore you can’t win an advertising award with a campaign that is not new and different. 

Coca-Cola is the real thing. In my opinion, there is nothing more powerful and motivating that Coke could ever say in its advertising than Coke is the real thing.

Their latest slogan “Make it real” is close but waters down the idea. I would just say it straight up. Coke is the real thing.

What does the Atlanta brand own in the mind? Since moving here in 1997 the idea we have heard most often is “Hotlanta.”

Atlanta is booming, especially since the 1996 Summer Olympics. Not only is Atlanta growing rapidly, but it’s also the home of Hartsfield-Jackson airport which recently passed Chicago’s O’Hare to become the world’s No. 1 airport.

But, of course, almost no advertising agency would recommend an idea like Hotlanta. It’s not creative because it’s been used before.

Too bad. Advertising agencies would save a lot of money and time dreaming up new ideas and clients would get more effective advertising if someone on either side fist sat down and asked themselves a simple question.

What idea do we already own in the mind?

(Of course, if you can’t answer that question you have no business spending money on advertising in the first place.)

Hotlanta is the idea that Al and I have been telling the city to use. Al wrote a piece on the subject for the Atlanta Business Chronicle in 1999. Atlanta could have taken that for free.

For more on this see:

Al’s article on

Atlanta’s official site: