Buffalo, New York’s, marketing campaign to promote its city to potential visitors is brilliant. Actually, it’s beyond brilliant: It’s been a huge economic success according to research. Have you seen it? The award-winning ads feature a tall, furry, funny spokesperson: an upright buffalo known as the “Unexpected Buffalo.” He’s the go-to guy on all things Buffalo, the knowledgeable friend who’s got you covered.
Although I haven’t been to Buffalo in ages, I’m newly intrigued and plan to visit some of the attractions recently mentioned in the print ads: Garden Walk Buffalo, the Darwin D. Martin House and the Colored Musicians Club.
Rochester could benefit from an avatar, a go-to guy or gal or “upright thing” that knows our city inside and out and is raring to promote it with gusto. But who or what could that spokesperson be? Unlike Buffalo, our city name doesn’t lend itself to an animal. Sure, we could employ our city’s founder, Nathaniel Rochester, as our tourism icon, but do we really want a stern-faced Revolutionary War soldier promoting our happening city? I think not.
We’ve got a few mascots floating around: Rocky, the University of Rochester’s yellow jacket wasp; Spikes and Mittsy, the Red Wings’ humanoid birds; Finley, the RazorSharks’ grinning shark, and, now, Mac, the Red Wings’ new Garbage-Plate fueled mascot. But as relevant as each of these mascots are to their respective associations, I doubt they’d make laudable city cheerleaders.
Besides, we need more than a mascot, we need an avatar!
When I stop and think about relevant symbols that could translate into a two-legged champion for our city, a few things come to mind: beer, lilacs, waterways, a nor’easter, chicken French, a white hot hotdog and a rock (for the slogan: Rochester Rocs). When I drill down on that list, however, only two cut it: a white hot and a rock.
Let’s start with the white hot. On second thought, gosh, let’s not. As fun and catchy as this spokesperson could be—heck, it could even have its own Wienermobile!—I do believe the symbol itself is fraught with too much innuendo to properly do its job.
So that brings us to the rock. Looking to the Michelin Man for inspiration, we could create an anthropomorphic rock with engaging personality traits. A little bit brainy (for our city’s inventiveness), a whole lot hip (for our city’s progressive, creative core), witty to boot (who doesn’t love humor?) and eager to show off Rochester (there’s so much to do here!), a Rochester-Rocs spokesperson could be just the thing to boost tourism here.
My thoughts on the design for our spokesperson? I think “Roc” should be made of flat, rounded rocks that are Zenfully balanced from head to toe. Done right, Roc—the antithesis of a formidable action hero made of chiseled granite—could create an amusing, approachable impression. Memorable and likeable. A city champion who’s ready to rock your world.
The marketing possibilities with Roc are endless! A few that come to mind: “On the Rocs” (Cocktail Revival celebration); “Off your Roc-ker” (Fringe Festival); “Glam Roc” (Fashion Week); “Let’s Roc the Boat” (Lake Ontario events); and so on.
What do you think? Should we “roc on” with Roc? Or, should we revisit the white hot and lean on a two-legged wiener to promote our fine city?
Anne Palumbo writes this column for Messenger Post newspapers. Her email is avpalumbo@aol.com.