For real

The City of Buffalo has long been the butt of jokes. Even my father, who’s from there, used to say that Buffalo came into being when “they cloned Cleveland.”

This week, there are new jokes as Buffalo—The City of Good Neighbors, The Queen City, The City of No Illusions, The Nickel City, Queen City of the Lakes, City of Light—takes on a new motto: “Buffalo For Real.”

I learned about this not from the city’s own announcement, which includes a new tourism video, but from the swell of snickers and criticisms from within Western New York and around the country. The blogosphere bubbles with mockery while Twitter tee-hees abound.

Advertising Age slammed the slogan, calling it meaningless. (But do check out their map of the most absurd city slogans in the United States.) Buffalonians don’t appear to be crazy about it either, but they’ve been quick to come to the defense of their city, as they are often called to do, pointing to the depth of Buffalo’s history and culture. One commenter suggested “Buffalo: Leave for the weather, come back for everything else.” Commenters from other cities were cruel (“Denver: at least it’s not Buffalo”), while others were happy to be out of the spotlight for their own cities’ inane slogans.

But back to Buffalo For Real. If the city’s marketeers had consulted me, I’d have suggested some punctuation. Mabye a comma or a colon following Buffalo. On the surface, “Buffalo For Real” does sound a little meaningless. But if you look at the campaign, there’s a broader theme: Buffalo for art, Buffalo for architecture, Buffalo for families, Buffalo for food, for nature, for history, for shopping, for sports, for performing arts. The tourism video addresses the “real” part. The narration holds the city’s past troubles and blemishes up to the light and assures visitors of the vast rejuvenation taking place. “We’ve had our share of hard knocks.” “Some might say that time has left our town behind.” “Neighborhoods given up for dead are being given new life.” Even the snow has an honored place in the script.

Juxtaposed against tourist destinations in which weather is the draw, with little authenticity behind sun and spa, Buffalo stands out as real. Blue collar and white collar workers alike have withstood decades of economic devastation and year after year of bone-chilling temperatures. The people remain ever cheerful, trust me. The city by Niagara Falls has a lot to be proud of.

I like the new slogan. I just wish the video had been narrated by someone with a Buffalo accent.

Now that would be real.


Filed under All Things Wordish, Marketing/Advertising/PR, Technology and Social Media, Travel

3 responses to “For real

  1. Sharon

    Nothing to do with Buffalo, but I thought of you when I came across a word used in a NYT article about the departure of Dick Ebersol from NBC Sports that I had never heard before, “skerrick” used as follows : “… David Hill, chairman of the Fox Sports Media Group, said: “I love Dick to death, but I don’t think his absence will make a skerrick of difference. ” (A skerrick is apparently a small bit or crumb, usually used in the negative, as in “not a skerrick” and is primarily used in Australia and New Zealand.)

    I occasionally see words that I can’t properly define, but I rarely encounter an English word that is neither a non-technical term nor a neologism that I don’t recall having heard before, and to encounter it in this context was especially surprising and even welcome.

    Did you know this word? How often does this happen to you?
    (If anyone wants to see the article, here is the link:

    • No, Sharon, I’ve never heard or seen “skerrick.” I’ll try and use it three times today, which will be interesting, considering I’m travelling. I’ll be sure to impress some strangers, maybe even the TSA. I often read and hear words that are new to me. Imagine how boring our lives would be if we didn’t.

  2. Who thinks these things up! Loved the link to other city mottos, especially the one for Hooker, OK. Hmmm…wonder what our motto would be here in Virginia Beach?

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