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2/19/2004

Mile High not enough for city

The Associated Press

DENVER — A few Denver residents are no longer uplifted by their city’s old nickname of Mile High City.

Angela Baier, the city’s first-ever marketing director, is hoping to generate a slogan that more clearly defines the image of Denver and the seven-county metropolitan area.

“We’re not scrapping ‘Mile High City,’” she said. “We’re strengthening it. It would take millions of dollars and a decade or more to get another slogan to the awareness level of the ‘Mile High City,’ and why would we want to?”

Baier’s research showed that people across the nation associate the nickname with the Rocky Mountains, skiing and the outdoors — not specifically for the Denver area.

“What that tells us is that there’s a very clear association with Colorado, but when people are asked what comes to mind specifically about Denver, they draw a blank,” Baier said.

Baier has been working for months with marketing experts, business leaders and residents to come up with an umbrella theme that can be used in promotions involving the city. Baier will announce the theme Wednesday to a group of 170 business leaders and marketing experts.

If it seems odd that a 145-year-old city is considering a new image, Denver is not alone. The 30-year-old “I Love New York” theme might be the best known, and Pittsburgh (“Imagine the Possibilities!”) and Houston (“Space City: A Space of Infinite Possibilities”) are among other American cities that have conducted similar campaigns.

The project’s goal is some kind of message — along the lines of “I love New York” — that restaurants, hotels, government agencies and all kinds of businesses can use as a foundation for their own marketing.

“The overall idea is that by strengthening a regional identity, it will strengthen the economy,” Baier said.

Among the slogans Denver has used over the years in promotional efforts, according Baier: “A Place To Be,” “Above the Rest,” “Convergence Corridor,” “Crown Jewel of Western Cities” and “Mile High Energy.”