Image: Space Needle
Elaine Thompson  /  AP
Letters 18-feet tall proclaiming Seattle's newest tourism slogan, "metronatural," are seen atop the landmark Space Needle last week.
updated 10/26/2006 3:35:22 PM ET 2006-10-26T19:35:22

When Washington state announced its new tourism slogan last spring, Pike Place Market vendor Kenny Telesco was willing to give it a chance.

He practiced saying it with "jazz hands" and asked tourists to "SayWA" as they posed for photos. But he's not sure he can stomach Seattle's new tourism slogan, unveiled Friday in 18-foot-tall letters atop the Space Needle: "metronatural."

"How do you use that in a sentence?" Telesco asked. "'Welcome to Metronatural.' ... It's an airport where you can buy organic bananas."

Others suggested "metronatural" evoked an urban nudist camp and speculated about whether it would last longer than "SayWA," which the state dropped recently because it failed to catch on.

"Metronatural" is the result of a 16-month, $200,000 effort by Seattle's Convention and Visitors Bureau. The bureau plans to spend $300,000 marketing the slogan, which will largely be targeted at generating business for the Washington Convention and Trade Center.

The idea behind "metronatural" was to capture that "Seattle offers the best of both worlds," visitors bureau president Don Welsh said in a statement. "We have a vibrant urban center surrounded by pristine wilderness and outdoor recreation."

A sampling of vendors and tourists at Pike Place Market, one of the city's premier attractions, suggested that Seattle doesn't need a slogan, let alone one that plays on that buzzword of yesteryear "metrosexual."

That's the approach that Vancouver, British Columbia, took when it updated its tourism marketing. Instead of having a tag line, advertisements simply say "Tourism Vancouver," with a large "V" styled to resemble an Olympic medal hanging from an athlete's neck.

It was Vancouver's decision to update its slogan that prompted Seattle to follow suit. Seattle's seldom-seen old slogan, developed in 1999, was a picture of an eye, an "at" symbol and the letter L: "See-At-L."

A look at the city's tourism industry would seem to suggest it's been doing fine without the new slogan. A record 9.1 million people visited Seattle last year, according to the visitors bureau. The cruise port is bustling, and the convention center drew nearly 400,000 people last year.

"Metro" and "natural" are "not two words that impress me as words that are going to stick out in someone's mind, like you want a slogan to stick out in someone's mind," said John Silas, a 30-year market veteran who makes and sells hardwood cribbage boards. "The idea feels sterile and commercial and it's lacking the heart of Seattle."

Tour guide Dick Falkenberry said he had heard all about the new slogan.

"It's 'SayWA.' No, wait, it's worse than 'SayWA,'" he said. "It's 'urban-metro.'"

Close enough.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Photos: The Emerald City

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  1. Art & architecture

    The Experience Music Project and the Seattle Space Needle share acreage on the Seattle Center Grounds. (Tim Thompson / Seattle CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Bell Harbor Marina

    Boats move in and out of the Bell Harbor Marina, with the Seattle skyline as a backdrop. (Tim Thompson / Seattle CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Ballard Locks

    Visitors watch as boats make the transition from the fresh water of Lake Washington and Lake Union to the salt water of Puget Sound through Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard, Seattle's Scandinavian neighborhood. (Seattle CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Seattle Art Museum

    The downtown Seattle Art Museum, designed by architect Robert Venturi, opened to rave reviews in 1991. (Seattle CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Lake living

    Modern apartments and condos sit on the hill above houseboats on Lake Union. The small Houseboat Tour takes passengers on a one-hour trip around the lake showing off the homes. (Barry Sweet / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Fish do fly

    Seattle's Pike Place Market is world-famous for its fresh seafood and produce, and its lively arts and crafts scene. (Seattle CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Curl up with a book

    With shelves specifically arranged in a non-linear formation, the main lobby of the Seattle Central Library. (Ted S. Warren / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Seattle Central Library

    A visitor to the new Seattle Central Library views an art installation set into an escalator wall in downtown Seattle. (Ted S. Warren / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Arch exhibit

    A stunning arch with usable space connects old and new exhibit areas at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center. Set in the heart of downtown Seattle, the center is within easy walking distance of more than 6,000 hotel rooms. (Tim Thompson / Seattle CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Fun, sun & sports

    Parasailing on Puget Sound, with SAFECO Field (home to the Seattle Mariners) and the Qwest Field (home to the Seattle Seahawks) in the background. (Tim Thompson / Seattle CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. A mile a minute

    Seattle Center's Monorail was built for the 1962 World's Fair, making the one-mile trip between the fairgrounds (now the Seattle Center campus) and the downtown retail district in less than two minutes. The Experience Music Project museum is in the background (Tim Thompson / Seattle CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Mount Rainier

    The majestic Mount Rainier watches over pleasure boats on Puget Sound. (Tim Thompson / Seattle CVB) Back to slideshow navigation
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