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State tourism office researching ‘tagline,’ overall ‘brand’

April 8, 2019 GMT

Hartford — A tagline is not a brand.

Randy Fiveash, director of the Connecticut Office of Tourism, drew a distinction between the two Monday while addressing members of the legislature’s Arts, Culture and Tourism Caucus, some of whom have questioned the effectiveness of “Still Revolutionary,” two words associated since 2012 with statewide tourism promotion.

It was Tourism Advocacy Day at the Capitol.

“I’m glad you referred to it as a tagline and not the brand,” Fiveash said, responding to Sen. Christine Cohen, D-Guilford, a caucus member. “We’re researching it. That’s what we’re doing now. There are opinions on both sides about what customers think of it.”

Conducted by a third party, the ongoing research seeks to evaluate all aspects of the state Department of Economic and Community Development’s marketing efforts, Fiveash said.

“Our brand is robust,” David Kooris, the DECD’s deputy commissioner, said. “The tagline is one very small component. … We’re doing research with target audiences. If there is dissatisfaction, we want to know if it’s with the slogan or with something more broad than that. The brand is something that’s overarching, not just tourism.”

Sen Heather Somers, R-Groton, said a tagline can “make all the difference” in a marketing campaign, referencing such successful tourism slogans as “Virginia Is For Lovers” and “I Love New York.”

“I’m not sure ‘Still Revolutionary’ is the way to go,” she said later.

The state’s study will be completed by mid to late June, according to Fiveash, who said his office bases everything it does on research. He told caucus members the state expects to spend 2 million it spent during the same period in 2018.

Prior to the caucus meeting, Rep. Devin Carney, R-Westbrook, told tourism operators and advocates that the state’s “Still Revolutionary” slogan should be changed. He also said the state should reopen the highway visitor centers it closed or partially closed several years ago, including one in his district.

The caucus is urging passage of two tourism-related bills that have been voted out of the legislature’s Commerce Committee, one of which calls for restrooms to be open 24 hours a day at the state’s six highway visitor welcome centers. Currently, centers in Greenwich, North Stonington and West Willington are open part time, while centers in Darien and Greenwich, which are located within Interstate 95 service areas, are open 24 hours a day. A center in Westbrook has been closed since July 27, 2016.

The bill also would establish a 27-member tourism council, chaired by the DECD commissioner, that would evaluate the DECD’s strategic marketing plan and report annually to the Commercce Committee.

A separate bill endorsed by the caucus would increase from 10 to 25 percent the portion of hotel room occupany tax revenue transferred to the Tourism Fund. Sixty percent of the fund would be allocated to tourism and 40 percent to arts and culture.