I guess I just don’t know enough about the advertising and marketing game.
Every so often, people will go out of their way to advertise something that you have to use anyway, whether you want to or not, and there's no competitor to go to. I don't get why they do that.
When I was a kid, the local water company where I lived ran a glitzy TV campaign to promote their water. The slogan was, "Turn us on, we'll come running."
The public's reaction was pretty much like, human beings can't live without water, and you're the only ones selling it, so why are you wasting your money on advertising? I also remember when the US Treasury Department spent a fortune to promote some new $20 bills they didn't think the public would like very much. For a tiny fraction of what they spent on that, they could just have given a bunch of those new $20s away for free. Everybody would have seen that they worked just like the old ones. Problem solved.
Which brings me to our Santa Fe Police Department. I don't know if you saw the recent story on SFReporter.com, but SFPD has a contest going for citizens to suggest a new slogan for them. I am not making this up.
I gather they must be having problems with people in emergency situations here calling some other police force, instead of SFPD.
"You rapscallions get off my lawn right now, or I'm calling the Los Angeles Police Department!" "They got away with $100,000! Looks like a job for the Muncie, Indiana Police Department!" "Take that dead guy out of the wood chipper, or I'm calling the Mr. Potato Head Police Department!" You see what I'm getting at here? If you live in Santa Fe and somebody is breaking into your house, who the hell else are you gonna call?
I'm known unfairly as sort of a smartass, so as soon as the slogan contest was announced, my friends started goading me into entering.
According to the SFPD's web page on the contest, this new branding effort is partly about attracting good recruits, "but it will also serve as a point of pride for residents and officers alike."
Yeah, what could make us prouder than a nice police slogan?
The contest site also says we're supposed to "keep all comments and slogans positive…" Well crap, this is getting harder by the minute.
The first thing was to assess my competition.
I went to the SFPD Facebook page where people are posting entries.
Here's one of them: "Santa Fe Police: For the People."
Really? Um, okay. Here's another: "Have faith in SF." That one is actually kind of clever, because if our police department doesn't go for it, the San Francisco Police Department might. Or maybe Sally Field.
One way to come up with a good slogan is to find one that has already been successful, and steal it. For example:
"SFPD: Expect more. Pay less." "SFPD: Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't!" "SFPD: The other white meat." "SFPD: What's in your wallet?" Of course, there could be trademark issues from doing it that way, so maybe it's time to come up with my own original ideas. Give me your honest opinion of these, and remember, I'm just spit-balling here:
"SFPD: You have the right to remain silent." "SFPD: Well, do ya, punk?" "SFPD: You think we won't shoot?" "SFPD: How much are these jelly doughnuts?" "SFPD: Firing at a minivan full of kids?
That was the State Police, not us!" In the unlikely event that the SFPD doesn't choose one of my slogans, I encourage you to throw out your own suggestions in the "Write a Comment" space under my column online.
However, I'm pretty sure I've already come up with the winner:
"SFPD: Our new slogan will fix everything!"
Robert Basler worked for Reuters in the US and Asia. He now lives in Santa Fe with his wife, and way too many rescued dogs and cats. Email the author: firstname.lastname@example.org.