A rebranding campaign for three Massachusetts counties—designed by the same Oklahoma consultants hired to create a new core image for Raleigh government
—has received such negative reaction that it's been put on hold by its sponsors.
Raleigh officials say they’re aware of the controversy surrounding the Massachusetts proposal by Cubic Creative but remain happy with the firm's work, under an $83,000 contract, for Raleigh. "I'm very pleased with the work they've provided us so far and think we are off to a great start," says Damien Graham, the city’s communications director.
In February, after its contract with Raleigh had been signed, Cubic Creative rolled out a "West Mass" slogan and logo for a local convention and visitors bureau and economic development center. Cubic was paid $80,000 for the effort to replace the region's existing name, "Pioneer Valley," an identifier that honors early settlers and dates to the 1930s.
Although perhaps clearer to outsiders, “West Mass” was dissed right away by people who live there.
“It took a year, intensive questionnaires, and tens of thousands of dollars to come up with … this?” said an editorial in BusinessWest
, the business journal of western Massachusetts.
Much more pointed online reaction was immediate and almost all negative, criticizing the slogan as vague and undistinguished. A change.org petition in opposition
has garnered more than seventeen hundred signatures as of Monday. And as of late last week, "West Mass" was being shelved
and will likely be discarded.
“We are taking a pause,” Rick Sullivan, president of the Economic Development Council of Western Mass., told the Boston Globe
Mary Kay Wydra, president of the Greater Springfield Convention and Visitor Bureau, told the INDY
Monday afternoon that Cubic had done a good job for the clients. Wydra says the campaign was geared primarily to people outside the market and that the agencies should have presented it more effectively on social media to reach local people.*
Raleigh officials declined to comment on the Massachusetts reaction.
"The city doesn't have a comment about a campaign that doesn't have anything to do with the city of Raleigh," Graham says.
Cubic's $80,000 campaign for the Massachusetts convention center and economic developments included the "West Mass" brand and a logo. Raleigh is not looking for a city slogan to replace "The City of Oaks"; it paid Cubic to conduct a discovery process that would “identify core themes and provide a narrative,” Graham says.
City council members, city staff, and media attended an April 18 unveiling of Cubic’s “narrative” of city government. The job of creating a logo, style guide, and additional materials will fall to the Assembly, a Raleigh company that will produce its work by June under a $143,000 contract.
When the city solicited bids for the entire rebranding process, companies submitted proposals in the $225,000 range, Graham says, roughly the amount of the combined fees for Cubic and the Assembly. “We felt a local firm, the Assembly, would be best to take us to the next level—the logo, style guide, and other materials,” he says.
*Correction: This article originally stated that the two agencies changed the campaign from “Western Mass” to “West Mass.” Michele Goldberg of the Greater Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau says that, in fact, that was Cubic’s recommendation: “Cubic presented the brand as West Mass. The data used in the project led Cubic to the name Western Mass, but they recommended shortening it to West Mass to be more modern.”