Five Years Into Campaign To Sell City, Some Wonder If It's Time For A Fresh Approach
September 12, 2006
By JEFFREY B. COHEN, Courant Staff Writer
For a time, it made sense.
"Hartford: New England's Rising Star" was a slogan intended to sell the city to itself and to others - a brand that placed the lesser-known city in the better-known region, one that hinted at change.
But five years into the slogan's life, some city boosters are sensing it's time for a different message. Hartford, some say, has already risen. Others, perhaps less convinced, wonder how long a star can rise before it, and the slogan, get tuckered out.
"There are clearly lots of opinions as to whether the star has risen, and whether that logo stays the same," said R. Nelson "Oz" Griebel, head of the MetroHartford Alliance - one of several partners in the slogan's parent, the Hartford Image Project.
The initial marketing effort, he said, was an attempt to define the city before its major attractions started attracting. And while Griebel is partial to keeping the logo, he said a broader question is being asked:
"Now, with a lot of the construction completed, what is the best way to market the city?"
Over the next three months, the various organizations that make up the Hartford Image Project will rethink their direction and their slogan.
Last week, Michael Kintner, the project's executive director, announced that he is moving on at the end of the year, and the project, itself, likely will cease to exist as its members now know it.
The project was set up to be a three- to five-year effort to get its various partners - arts, culture, tourism, economic development, etc. - to coordinate their marketing efforts under one brand, and to work on improving Hartford's image.
But now that some of the organizations are developing brands and logos of their own - the Connecticut Convention Center and the Connecticut Science Center as examples - they may try to coordinate marketing campaigns, but the umbrella organization and its staff could disappear.
"I think what you'll see is different configurations, but you're going to see ongoing cooperation," Kintner said. "The project will come to an end, but the marketing of Hartford won't. I think a number of board members felt you can be a rising star for only so long, and that you move on beyond that trademark."
But not all are ready to jettison the blue, yellow and white shooting star. The city says it may try to get the rights to the slogan. And Griebel says he is not sure it's a good idea to let go. "I am one person that's not about to move easily off five years of investment and a slogan," he said.
The image project's collaborators include the state, the city, the alliance, the convention center, the science center, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the Greater Hartford Convention and Visitors Bureau, Hartford 2000, Central Connecticut River Valley, and Waterford Management Group.
John F. Palmieri, the city's director of development services and the immediate past chairman of the project's board, said it's time to rethink an effort that was intended to last no more than three years.
"It will be a new and more energetic next phase that will mean we have to build from what we have, not change it completely," Palmieri said. "We've achieved a certain level of success in promoting the city, its assets and the region. The question now is: Where do we go from here?"
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at