SEATTLE – When Washington state announced its new tourism slogan last spring, Pike Place Market ,vendor Kenny Telesco was willing to give it a chance. He practiced saying it with "jazz hands" and asked tourists to "SayWA" as they posed for photos. But he's not sure he can stomach Seattle's new tourism slogan, unveiled Friday in 18-foot-tall letters atop the Space Needle: "metronatural."
"How do you use that in a sentence?" Telesco asked. "'Welcome to Metronatural.' ... It's an airport where you can buy organic bananas."
Others suggested "metronatural" evoked an urban nudist camp and speculated about whether it would last longer than "SayWA," which the state dropped recently because it failed to catch on.
"Metronatural" is the result of a 16-month, $200,000 effort by Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau. The bureau plans to spend $300,000 marketing the slogan, which will largely be targeted at generating business for the Washington Convention and Trade Center.
The idea behind "metronatural" was to capture that "Seattle offers the best of both worlds," visitors bureau president Don Welsh said in a statement. "We have a vibrant urban center surrounded by pristine wilderness and outdoor recreation."
A sampling of vendors and tourists at Pike Place Market, one of the city's premier attractions, suggested that Seattle doesn't need a slogan, let alone one that plays on that buzzword of yesteryear "metrosexual."
That's the approach that Vancouver, British Columbia, took when it updated its tourism marketing. Instead of having a tag line, advertisements simply say "Tourism Vancouver," with a large "V" styled to resemble an Olympic medal hanging from an athlete's neck.
It was Vancouver's decision to update its slogan that prompted Seattle to follow suit. Seattle's seldom-seen old slogan, developed in 1999, was a picture of an eye, an "at" symbol and the letter L: "See-At-L."
A look at the city's tourism industry would seem to suggest it's been doing fine without the new slogan. A record 9.1 million people visited Seattle last year, according to the visitors bureau. The cruise port is bustling, and the convention center drew nearly 400,000 people last year.
"Metro" and "natural" are "not two words that impress me as words that are going to stick out in someone's mind, like you want a slogan to stick out in someone's mind," said John Silas, a 30-year market veteran who makes and sells hardwood cribbage boards. "The idea feels sterile and commercial and it's lacking the heart of Seattle."
Tour guide Dick Falkenberry said he had heard all about the new slogan.
"It's 'SayWA.' No, wait, it's worse than 'SayWA,'" he said. "It's 'urban-metro.'"