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Like it or not, Moose Jaw's 'notorious' slogan is getting a reaction

Moose Jaw's new "notorious" branding campaign is getting noticed, and that's a good place to start for those behind the brand
moose jaw friendly city sign
The sign welcoming visitors to "The Friendly City" (Scott Hellings photograph)

Moose Jaw's new branding slogan is gaining notoriety before it has even been officially launched.

The new slogan naming Moose Jaw as "Canada's Most Notorious City" was presented to members of the Chamber of Commerce and business community two weeks ago and the "notorious" campaign became public knowledge not long after.

Reaction has been mixed, but there has been a reaction and that was one of the goals of the slogan.

"The worst-case scenario is 'meh,'" said Jacki L'Heureux-Mason, executive director of Tourism Moose Jaw.

The slogan, which plays off of Moose Jaw's history with prohibition, the tunnels, Al Capone and some of the other seedy elements in the city in the 1920s, is certainly edgier than "The Friendly City."

L'Heureux-Mason said she "knew that there was going to be a portion of people who aren't going to be thrilled with it."

The full release of the branding campaign, along with the final plans for what the City is going to do with Mac the Moose, will be unveiled towards the end of March or the first week of April.

"I strongly feel that people will understand where we're going with this once they see a little more," L'Heureux-Mason said.

The City had a professional development sessions with marketing expert Gair Maxwell. The rebranding grew out of those meetings.

"He has a video out where he really talks about how important it is to initiate the discussion," L'Heureux-Mason said of Maxwell. "His bottom line is that the only place you don't want to be in marketing is in the middle of the fairway. You want to take risks with it. Otherwise you get lost in the middle."

L'Heureux-Mason was very happy with the reaction from the local business community that they have engaged with.

"Anybody who has a business, anybody who was part of the release we did... they were thrilled," she said. "Any feedback I have received personally has been 100 per cent positive. I haven't even heard second-hand that anybody who has been involved in this directly, someone who has skin in the game, has had a bad reaction at all.

"It's been private residents who I have seen who have had any strong feeling against it."

L'Heureux-Mason wasn't surprised that there has been some negative feedback from the public.

She has been "deep in the weeds" gauging the response from any Facebook posts related to the new branding. She noted that it wasn't exactly scientific, but she counted any likes or loves on Facebook as positive and even the "laughing" and "wow" Facebook reactions as negative -- along, obviously, with the "sad" and "angry" reactions.

"Comments are often 5-to-1 negative," she said of the nature of people who take the time to respond on social media. "I went with likes and hearts versus everything else and we were still sitting at 62 per cent positive. I was very happy with that.

"There were something like 700 responses to that. It's a fairly good, and much more accurate, measure than just comments. That's Social Media 101 and life in general, more negative comments will come out than the positive ones."

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