LINCOLN — Is it time to write a eulogy for “The Good Life”?
The Nebraska Tourism Commission is in the final stages of a study to come up with a new, and official, state slogan and symbol to better promote the state for visitors.
But several citizens appear ready to fight to keep Nebraska's unofficial tag line, “The Good Life,” which has been stamped on state highway signs for decades.
The idea is to give the state a more up-to-date “brand” to attract visitors, said Kathy McKillip, executive director of the tourism commission.
The official state slogan dates to 1963: “Welcome to NEBRASKAland: Where the West Begins.” McKillip suggested that it might be time to retire “The Good Life,” too.
On Wednesday, a bill was introduced in the Legislature to give the tourism agency the power to change the state symbol and slogan.
The state's tourism marketing slogan, “Possibilities ... Endless,” has been in use for 10 years. “The Good Life” signs on state roadways have greeted visitors to Nebraska for decades.
Then there's the little-known official slogan, which includes a drawing of a covered wagon. The old wagon just doesn't cut it anymore, McKillip said.
“I'm not saying that Western culture is not part of our DNA, but it's certainly not 21st century marketable,” she said.
But it was the notion of retiring “The Good Life” slogan that ignited a swift backlash. A “Save the Good Life” effort flared on Facebook and Twitter. Calls and emails streamed into the office of State Sen. Heath Mello of Omaha, who introduced the state slogan/symbol measure, Legislative Bill 1024.
There's no point fixing something that isn't broken. #keepthegoodlife— Mikayla Stamp (@itsmikmak) January 23, 2014
Jared Bakewell, 33, of Omaha, said “The Good Life” has always just felt right to him.
“In Nebraska we don't have coasts, we don't have mountains, but we have good people.” he said. “We just have 'The Good Life.' ”
Bakewell, the owner of a marketing firm, has a special affinity for the phrase. His company is helping promote a new half-marathon run in Lincoln called “The Good Life Halfsy.”
Mello quickly clarified that his intent was not to eliminate “The Good Life” but to vanquish the “Where the West Begins” slogan from state law because he said it's outdated.
“I'm simply getting rid of the one in state law and giving the authority to the tourism commission, where I think it rightfully belongs,” the senator said.
Claims that LB1024 repeals "The Good Life" are inaccurate. My statement correcting the record: http://t.co/Tm6XH7A8lz— Heath Mello (@heathmello) January 22, 2014
It should be noted that state tourism officials have changed their marketing slogan several times over the years — “America's Frontier” and “Genuine Nebraska” are among them — but that never led to the removal of “The Good Life” from along the highways.
The new state slogan, McKillip said, is being developed by advertising firm Bailey Lauerman and a consultant, Believable Brands. The new slogan and symbol are expected to be unveiled by May 1, in time for the 2014 tourism season.
McKillip said that as a slogan, “The Good Life” has endured longer than many of the other state tag lines, but it's probably something that can be claimed by many other states.
“What's unique about Nebraska is what we want to tell,” she said.