"Nebraska Nice” is Nebraska’s new tourism brand. Oh boy.Nice. The dictionary defines it as: “giving pleasure or joy; good and enjoyable; attractive or of good quality; kind, polite, and friendly.”
At the risk of sounding snarky, isn’t that nice?
The brand is the result of nine months of research and development. A Nice brand promotional campaign, coming soon, will showcase some of Nebraska's best assets, says Nebraska Tourism Commission Vice Chairman, John Chapo. He said the research clearly showed that one of Nebraska's strongest assets is its people.
Commission Director Kathy McKillip said the process of branding Nebraska as a destination is more than creating a symbol or slogan.
“We set out to find a message that would resonate with Nebraskans and will very quickly communicate Nebraska's strengths to potential visitors,'' she said.
Resonate. The dictionary says: ”to continue to produce a loud, clear, deep sound for a long time; to have particular meaning or importance for someone; to affect or appeal to someone in a personal or emotional way.”
So far, the loud, clear, deep sound has been one of disbelief and discontent. Nine months of research to come up with a slogan that has previously been used by neighbors Minnesota and Iowa? Some $75,000 to come up with something that has been labeled everything from lame to innocuous?
There are those who have started a social media campaign to revive “Nebraska … the good life” which is still on entrance signs to the state but hasn’t been the official slogan since 1974. Thank the late Governor Jim Exon for having the foresight to get that one on the signs.
(We hear from people who like "Nebraska...Where the West Begins." - Editor.)
The theme of the disgruntled seems to be, we can do better.
A poll in the Scottsbluff Star-Herald revealed that 63.6 percent of respondents believed that “we could do better” than Nebraska Nice. Only 3.6 percent said they “liked” the slogan and the balance said, “it doesn’t matter.”
A retired newspaper photographer encouraged Facebook friends to use nice as an acronym. An editor friend commented, “Nebraska: Interstate Construction Endless.” That’s a reminder of yet another blah Nebraska slogan, “possibilities … endless.”
Another Facebooker offered, “Nearly In Colorado! Exciting!”
On a positive note, one offered this signage to be placed near communities that have Runza Restaurants and Valentino’s Pizza Restaurants: “Now I Can Eat.”
McKillip hopes the new brand will “help spread the word that Nebraska truly is a nice place to be.”
A commission spokesperson said Nebraska Nice has a dual meaning. It's not only about Nebraskans being nice to visitors and each other, it's also a reference to the nice moments that make the best vacations memorable and special, the special moment that is talked about for years and years to come.
A friend suggests that we not fault the advertising agency that came up with the brand slogan. After all, they were just doing their job and they did manage to sell it – recycled or not – to the tourism commission.
Another suggests that maybe several ideas should have been floated with an opportunity for Nebraskans to vote.
Sure. Kind of like when we all got to vote for suitable license plates and wound up with a bird and a flower and a color combination that looked like any number of neighboring states.
Sorry. That wasn’t nice now, was it!
By J.L. Schmidt, Nebraska Press Association. First published in the Bulletin's May 21 print edition.