The following editorial first appeared in the Lincoln Journal Star.
State officials insist that there’s no contest between the state brand and the slogan for tourism.
But if there were, Good just ran Nice across the rassling ring and smashed its head against the turnbuckle. Nice is out cold. Good is strutting around the ring, arms raised in victory.
Good, you may have guessed, refers to “Nebraska the Good life,” the '70s phrase that has taken root in the state psyche.
Now it lives on in Nebraska’s new “unified” state brand: “Nebraska. Good Life. Great Opportunity.”
Nice is Nebraska’s scandal-tainted, multi-million-dollar albatross of a tourism slogan: “Visit Nebraska. Visit Nice.”
In comparison, the new state brand was developed by Lincoln-based Firespring for $62,500.
From the beginning, Firespring President Dave Snitily said, people voiced an attachment to “The Good Life” slogan.
Gov. Pete Ricketts and Courtney Dentlinger, state economic development director went with it.
“It captures the essence of Nebraska,” Dentlinger said. Ricketts said the new state brand reflects how Nebraskans feel about themselves.
There’s no doubt that the new state brand will fare better in the court of public opinion than the controversial tourism slogan referring to Nebraska nice.
In the first place, Minnesota already owned the phase, more or less. There’s even a Coen brothers movie with the title “Minnesota Nice.”
And in the second place the “Nebraska nice” slogan is now stained by the scandal of a $4.4 million cost overrun by the advertising firm that helped develop it.
It looks like it’s on its way out. “"It's turned into more of a joke," Nebraska Travel Association President Todd Kirshenbaum said earlier this year. In Iowa they sell a T-shirt that says, “Nebraska: Nice try.”
And some are championing use of the “good life” phrase for tourism. "I have been a strong proponent for returning Nebraska to 'the good life' for years," said Kevin Howard, director of the Alliance Visitors Bureau. "It resonates with the citizens of the state of Nebraska."
The phrase still adorns some highway welcome signs at the state’s borders. A Facebook page “Nebraskans for keeping “The Good Life” slogan has more than 12,000 members. Needless to say, the page was humming this week.
Ricketts said the “good life” phrase is flexible enough to be tweaked for specific purposes. The Roads Department, for example, plans to use “Good Life. Great Journey.”
When he unveiled the new brand, Ricketts paraphrased a quote from the John Steinbeck novel, “East of Eden” that goes “No story has power, nor will it last, unless we feel in ourselves that it is true and true of us.” It’s hard to argue that the quote does not apply to the new state brand.