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What's In a Name? Slogans Can Make or Break a City, Experts Say

Some are more cringe-inducing than cash-infusing.   

City slogans aim to promote business while capturing the true spirit of the place. All hope to become immortally catchy, like "I ♥ NY" and "What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas."  

But a look at some of the more recent picks shows how hard it can be to come up with something that will stick. 

FoxNews.com selected seven of the more unusual slogans and asked the experts if these would actually hurt, rather than help a city's image or tourism business, and why anyone could even think that some of these were a good idea in the first place. 

1. "It's A Location, Not A Vocation": Hooker, Okla.

C'mon, seriously? In a case like this, the city's name can pretty much do all the marketing. "Of course (the slogan) has to do with the name of the town," said Linda Riches, the city clerk of Hooker, Okla. "We just capitalized on the name because it's so unusual!"

She wasn't kidding about capitalizing on the name. The local Chamber of Commerce sells T-shirts reading, "All My Friends Are Hookers" and  "Once a Hooker, Always A Hooker," and a shirt paying homage to the local baseball team,"The Hooker Hornytoads." Public relations expert Michele Tell-Woodrow, founder of Preferred Public Relations, said the slogan is catchy. "In this case, it may drive more visitors to Hooker, Okla., which, I must say, is now a city on my must-visit bucket list." 

2. "Barbed Wire Capital of the World":  La Crosse, Kan.

Finally, our dream of finding endless amounts of barbed wire has arrived.

"It usually gets a laugh," said Duane Moeder, city manager of La Crosse. "People ask, 'Why are you the barbed wire capital of the world?'  The area is known for its barbed wire collection and is home to the Kansas Barbed Wire Collectors Association and Kansas Barbed Wire Museum. 

"To speak to this slogan at first impression, this says stay away or keep out," said Kathy Watkins, owner of Sutter-Watkins Marketing and Advertising. But Solveig Thorsrud-Allen, president and CEO of The Firm PR, said city officials should start marketing to a specific audience: former prison inmates. "If they have money to spend as a tourist and aren't wanted by the law, then great for La Crosse." 

3. "Home of the Ding Dong Daddy": Dumas, Ark.

What is a "ding dong daddy?" Well, apparently Dumas, Ark., is where you'll find a majority of them.

"I'm a ding dong daddy," said a proud Johnny Brigham, the city clerk of Dumas and reigning "Ding Dong Daddy" of the city. The honor is given at the annual "Ding Dong Daddy Festival" each summer. "We're just a town of friendly people with a friendly atmosphere." 

The city's inspiration behind the slogan comes from a Vaudeville-era music hit titled "I'm a Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas." PR expert Kathy Watkins said if you don't do your research on the city's connection to the "ding dong daddy" song, the slogan wouldn't make much sense. "If (the city's) goal is to attract tourism, it would behoove Dumas to incorporate the Vaudeville aspect into their marketing.” 

4. "Weed Like to Welcome You": Weed, Calif.

The city sounds like a location for the next "Harold and Kumar" movie, but Weed, Calif., is  just a small town that would like to dissociate itself from, well, marijuana.

"I get to see a lot of travelers; most of them are high," said Stephanie Shaver, marketing director for the Weed Chamber of Commerce. "People get off the interstate expecting a hippy town, but it's not. We thought (the slogan) would be a cute way to welcome people without making too much of a play on marijuana."

Vanessa Casas, who works for Virgen PR and Advertising in Las Vegas, said it's "witty, yet so innocent and appropriate for all ages." The Virgen PR rep said the word "weed" could have taken so many other "herbal forms," but the slogan "captures the laid-back, playful attitude of California. 

5. "Livable, Lovable, Lodi": Lodi, Calif.

Officials had to come up with something after the Al Qaeda-linked terror case that threw the town into the media spotlight back in 2005. But this slogan sounds like a cuddly teddy bear instead of a place. Despite this, officials say it has come to symbolize a medium-size town that was much smaller in the 1950s.

"It still has a small-town feel, despite having 63,000 residents," said Jeff Hood, a city spokesman for Lodi, Calif., which had a population of about half of that in the 1950s. "A lot of families enjoy raising their families here. I mean, you can get across town in five minutes." 

Watkins said the slogan "is certainly inviting and it peaks your interest to see what makes it lovable." But Thorsrud-Allen wasn't a big fan of the lovable slogan. "This is fairly vanilla and they aren't taking a stand on anything. I would go back to the drawing board on this one." 

6. "Don't Pass Gas, Stop and Enjoy It": Gas, Kan.

Be honest, the slogan probably made you giggle a little bit. Could it be appealing to a specific, audience of chili lovers?

"Never found humor in flatulence references," Casas said. "My guess is there's a large male population."

But not all women agree. "This is hilarious," said Thorsrud-Allen. "It would make me stop to check it out, so I bet others would, too." 

7. "The Toothpick Capital of the World":  Strong, Maine

Strong, Maine, would be a great place to live if you eat a lot of barbecue. Strong native Charles Forster created those handy toothpicks in the 1800s. But at the end of the day, are toothpicks really that interesting? 

Watkins isn't sure if this would necessarily attract tourism. "If you are from this region you might appreciate this slogan. But as a tourist or businessperson, how would 'Toothpick Capital of the World' attract tourism and new commerce to Strong, Maine?"

Casas agreed and said she doesn't see the appeal. "If nothing else, it's a fun fact for travelers passing through, and now I know where to go to expand my toothpick collection."

Pete Griffin is part of the Junior Reporter program at Fox News. Get more information on the program here.

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