Made from what’s real.
It sounds like a phrase you might find printed on the side of a box of organic granola. But no, "made from what’s real" is Winnipeg’s new civic slogan and, well, I have notes.
The new slogan — which is also accompanied by a new logo — was unveiled by Economic Development Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba this week, and is the result of a two-year research and consultation process.
I suppose the one good thing about "made from what’s real" is that it’s technically true. Winnipeg is indeed made from what’s real, in the way that all cities are made from what’s real. Heart of the Continent, the slogan it’s replacing, is also technically true, but at least that one gives some geographical context in addition to being blandly poetic.
I get that "made from what’s real" is supposed to represent our authenticity and unpretentiousness as a people and place, but it could literally be about anything and also sort of sounds like a misadventure with Google Translate. I want a slogan that says something about who we are, as a people. Acerbic. Self-deprecating. Funny. Hardy. Weirdly proprietary about a season. I want a slogan that conveys something about our geography, or our history — anything specific at all.
Look, I don’t envy this task. Encapsulating an entire place with a slogan and a logo in a way that pleases a notoriously unpleasable city is hard — and I know it’s hard because I spent 10 minutes doing it. I’m not saying I did a better job, but I’m not not saying that, either.
Acknowledging that nothing will top the high benchmark set by The Simpsons — Winnipeg: We Were Born Here, What’s Your Excuse? — here some alternative suggestions, for your consideration:
Winnipeg: Keeping it Riel (As many people have pointed out on social media, it was right there, guys.)
Winnipeg: It’s Real and It’s Spectacular* *It’s Fine
Winnipeg: No, Winter Is Our Thing
Winnipeg: We Put the Polar in Polarizing (This one does three things: it’s a nod to our weather, a nod to our love/hate relationship with this town, and also we have polar bears here.)
Winnipeg: It’s Nippy All Right!
Winnipeg: Not the Best, But Not the Worst!
Winnipeg: Take Off, Eh? (The fact that this isn’t actually the slogan on the Jets licence plate feels like a missed opportunity.)
Winnipeg: We’ve Never Heard of You, Either (Cheeky!)
Winnipeg: If You Know, You Know
Winnipeg: Yeah, We Know, We Live Here (see also, Winnipeg: We’ve Already Made Every Joke About It)
Winnipeg: Under Water and On Fire
Winnipeg: Back Door!!! (Niche to Winnipeg Transit users, perhaps.)
Winnipeg: It’s a Vibe!
Winnipeg: Wow! (Inflection does a lot of work here.)
Winnipeg: A Hill of Garbage, a Heart of Gold (OK, this one is pretty good.)
We’re also getting new city-limits signs printed; to that end, I’d also be good with just hanging the Route 90 Humbug sign out there and calling it a day. Nothing says Winnipeg to me quite like surly, year-round Christmas lights.
The problem with debuting a new slogan isn’t that Winnipeggers are negative (which we certainly can be), it’s that Winnipeggers are nostalgic. I mean, we’re still holding on to One Great City!, right down to its hokey exclamation point. (Though, One Great City! is pretty perfect: it can be interpreted as a plucky, mid-sized, Midwestern city that’s just trying its darndest, or it can be read as sarcastic and self-aware.)
Sloganeering is mostly an exercise for tourism, and I think we have trouble recognizing Winnipeg as a shiny tourist destination because we know it too well.
Making jokes about this town is my love language for Winnipeg. I love this flawed, hilarious, frustrating, beautiful, harsh, gritty town. I can be so proud of it and so disappointed in it, but I can’t quit it.
So maybe that’s the slogan. Winnipeg: Hard to Love, Harder to Leave.