PHIL WIELAND: Indiana needs to expand its brand

2013-06-21T00:00:00Z PHIL WIELAND: Indiana needs to expand its brandBy Phil Wieland, (219) 548-4352

When I heard Indiana is developing a new brand to boost tourism, I had mixed emotions.

First, I agreed with Mark Newman, executive director of the state's Office of Tourism Development, that "Restart Your Engines" is a little too Indy 500 focused, especially for the automotive-challenged who don't get off on watching loud cars go around in long circles for three hours.

On the other hand, those brands are painful, and I don't think I have any more room on my butt for them. I'm still recovering from "Wander Indiana," but then who isn't? I'm all about boosting tourism, so I might have to pack on a few pounds to make room.

Newman said the state needs a slogan that captures everything from the beauty of the dunes to the "allure" of the Ohio River valley. A slogan that broad might require every vehicle to have at least 20 license plates to hold it all. Either that or go with "Indiana: Land of Delusion."

If they want to use the lakeshore and the river as the focal points, then they could try "Wet Yourself in Indiana." That does kind of ignore the rest of Indiana's attributes, but this is a Republican state and being all-inclusive is not exactly a new problem for the GOP.

It's probably not a good idea to solve the problem with a slogan like "Lots of good stuff in Indiana" or "We got it - Come see it." Obviously, creating a slogan that is both broad enough to cover the whole state but succinct enough to fit on a license plate - and my butt - is a challenge.

One way to get people of all segments of society interested in coming to Indiana would be with a slogan that captures the state's past while promoting the present with something like "Most of us aren't in the KKK any more."

History buffs and the Tea Party both would be drawn to the state where "The 18th century lives in our Legislature." People are bound to love a state whose idea of diversity is having 150 different license plates that might all bear the brand, "Still not sure about that education thing."

Illinois has lived on the "Land of Lincoln" brand almost since the Andrew Johnson administration, so it's time Indiana used its connection with a national hero with the same alliterative lilt: "Land of Letterman." Sadly, our presidents and vice presidents aren't even worth tweeting about, much less putting on a license plate.

In the end, Indiana is going to have to try to find a brand that blends national notoriety with real Republican values. Ohio's quarter plays up the hometown affiliation with astronauts John Glenn and Neil Armstrong, but Indiana can match that with Gus Grissom and Jerry Ross.

Add a dash of GOP and you've got "The right stuff - for the right people."

I can feel the burn already.

The opinions are those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 548-4352.

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