An Exaltation of Morons

According to a story in the Santa Monica Daily Press, the second annual Convention and Visitors Bureau beach summit was held Tuesday, as part of a continuing effort to create “a new identity for Santa Monica that can be marketed to tourists around the world and to those right here at home…
[as well as} a brand for Santa Monica that conveys a powerful message to consumers, enticing them to come back time and time again. ..

“The current brand promise is as follows: ‘Santa Monica … the best way to discover L.A.; an unforgettable beach city experience filled with eye-catching people, cutting-edge culture and bold innovations. It is the essence of the California Lifestyle.’”

The Daily Press also reported that Duane Knapp, president of BrandStrategy Inc., a CVB consultant and one of the creators of the brand promise, which was introduced at the first annual CVB beach summit last year, “has been monitoring the branding process, and (he) said Santa Monica is making progress and is continuing to show interest in enhancing itself. He said it is important to remember that the process is continuous and must evolve along with the city.

“’You must involve the stakeholders on a regular basis,’ Knapp said.’ You have to constantly replace, renew and enhance … This is a lifelong process.’”

And, not incidentally, a great gig for Mr., BrandStrategy, Inc.

As longtime “stakeholders,” we protest. All of it.


It’s as if this gloriously idiosyncratic beach town had been hijacked by cliché junkies.

“Beach city experience…eye-catching people…cutting edge culture…bold
innovations…?” Sounds like a haut schlock department store not a
legendary beach town.

This “brand promise” is more threat than promise.

And these same people want to “create a new Identity” for Santa Monica. That’s about as smart as “creating a new identity” for Porsche by changing its name to, say, “Speedy.”

Santa Monica is THE Southern California beach town. It’s the one and only, the original. It’s not a brand, it’s a masterpiece of a place and it doesn’t need mindless marketers, it needs devoted stewards who will preserve what is good and quash what isn’t.

If the 60 or so people who attended the summit were serious about “improving” Santa Monica, they would spend all their energy on healing the bay, reducing traffic and preserving the community’s cherished
diversity.

But, of course, they aren’t serious, they’re just impatient and they have a $2.4 million budget.

Editor’s Note: When Dispatch wizard Chris Chandler’s way was blocked on an otherwise empty street by a two-car traffic jam, he muttered, “What’s
this? An exaltation or morons?”

The inspired and useful phrase went immediately into the Dispatch lexicon, and will turn up in our communiqués as needed.

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