Amazed By Halloween
As new residents of Berlin from upstate New York, we have been hearing for many months about Halloween night.
Our street is by no means as busy as Main Street or Washington Streets, but we still saw about 400 trick-or-treaters we estimate. Truth be told it was much harder work than we thought it would be. We saw on the We Heart Berlin Facebook page where a residence on Washington Street had about 1,400 trick-or-treaters and another Harrison Avenue had about 700. In my old town, we saw about 50 on the busiest of the nights.
While the popularity is amazing and awe inspiring, I have two takeaway thoughts.
First, the residents of this town are amazing. The work and commitment many display are beyond the pale of anything I have ever seen. We saw some houses getting decorated over the last couple weeks, but we had no idea how adventurous and industrious many people are for one night.
Secondly, by the day after Halloween, most residences had their decorations down and most importantly there was no evidence the town of Berlin hosted thousands and thousands of people the night before. It was an amazing experience for us newbies to Berlin.
I truly know and understand what people say now when they say Halloween is special in Berlin. We are already looking forward to next year.
Thoughts On Branding
“What’s the most obvious 70’s symbol? One of the first things that came to mind was that stupid smiley face,” Peter ‘Barnzley’ Ermitage.
Seeing some folks going crazy over the new Smiley face logo for Ocean City can be somewhat bewildering.
There is some good news and some bad news about Ocean City’s new Smiley-faced logo.
We have detected a serious communications problem here. To try to get a good take on the new logo, we did some further research on how emojis or smiley faces would hold up to the long-term marketing goals set by the Town of Ocean City. But first it is important that one reads the comments of two of our editors and copywriters. The first copywriter wrote, “The logo is childish. I think the colors are good but overall just not applicable to the city. I think it should focus on the beaches which is why people visit.” The second copywriter wrote, “Just out of curiosity with the smiley face logo, I Googled the question: Is the smiley face passe? What I found interesting about the article was that when the writer queried various generations including Gen Z, etc., and many of the younger types (the presumed target demographic for the BVK ad campaign) thought the smiley face was either creepy or mundane or essentially ignorable in some form or another that was not clearly articulated. Exactly!
“As far as what the BVK ad guys quoted in the newspaper article had to say about the content of the “new” campaign, their various statements and slogans about OC sound generic to me. That verbiage is stale and could be stated about any beach resort in the world. Ocean City is special because why? It makes people happy? I don’t get the point, and it adds nothing new of any interest or difference from what already can be found in a quadrillion previous ad campaigns for OC over the last 50 to 100 years. To me, BVK is just selling smoke and mirrors. But, isn’t that what the ad game is all about, except that the really good ad guys are able to come up with a different twist on the ancient smoke and mirrors? That’s what separates the good ad guys from the bad ones, in my opinion. In short, I think the smiley face logo is really a bad choice, which has probably cost the city government a lot of taxpayer dollars already.
“In addition, the smiley face logo really is ancient, creaky, and as some of the Gen Zers in the article were quoted as describing it, ‘creepy.’ I think it’s a poor choice for a “new” logo for the basis of a new ad campaign for the town, because it ain’t new. And, just to add an historical note. You may recall that the current Ocean City town flag, incorporating the letters O and C into the design of breaking waves on the flag itself, created in 1973. It seems to me that BVK has added nothing new at all in their proposed campaign. Looks to me as if they simply stole the OC letters idea and stuck it on a smiley face. So from the historical perspective, you basically have a repetition of what was created 49 years ago. Just a few thoughts.”
The “new” logo is not indicative of the people, the culture, the history of the town, and most specifically why people come to Ocean City in the first place. A logo is supposed to be an image, a symbol of what it is promoting. A smiley face was on T-shirts decades ago, a song “Be Happy” was created thereafter, and now we have a logo that does not represent 2022. We have persevered through a pandemic, are expanding as a town and trying to appeal to all ages. Beaches bring the people here. The yellow and blue
does not appeal to teenagers, to adults, to seniors, who have lived here, contributed to
the town, and who want to see us flourish.
The OC smiley logo is only good for a short duration of 3-6 months. It would best be used or reimagined as “OC will make you smile for 2023.” Or say “2023 will be the Summer of Smiles in Ocean City.” After 2023, tuck it away and then bring it back for the Summer of 2028. It can be called the “Grand Smile Promotion of 2028.” Perhaps the town can bestow an award in 2028 for the ladies that can brandish the most lovey smiles while clothed in a bathing suit. One could say, “Our great summer of smiles is back again for 2028. More smiles than ever before.”
Emojis change as trends change. Is what the company that developed this logo saying that Ocean City is a trend, that smiling is a trend? I hope not. We need to do better.
We admire the slick sales ability of BVK to sell the concept to Ocean City officials. They pulled off what others could not do. They are a great sales organization. However, the concept is dated, and what it symbolizes about the town is simply not who we are. What OC has been served is a clever bit of sales promotion that is only good for the short term. While we recommend the Smiley face promotion can be brought back every five years or so. In the event the Smiley has to be used for 2024, we suggest that one recalls a piece of OC history. We fondly remember the appearances of Chubby Checker at Jordan’s Rooftop Restaurant. Chubby brought down the house when he chanted “Let’s Twist again, like We did last Summer.” So for Ocean City, the town slogan for 2024 could be “Let’s Smile again, like We did last Summer.”
Emojis/smilies are good for short term or sales promotion use only. This is why there is a reported uptick on the Internet in some part of the Ocean City promotion featuring the new smiley promotion. The likelihood of Smiley surviving on a long-term advertising basis are not looking too good.
Only time will tell whether we will be swept along on a deep and meaningful river of emoji PR, like a joyous plastic duck race, or we just get marooned on a tragic, floating island of single-use plastic platitudes.
If we have to adopt the smiley face, we need to do so for the short term–for 2023. Please do not attempt to kill the messenger of this note. We are employing contemporary Advertising, Marketing and Management principles to solve a problem situation. We believe our solution is fair to all sides. We do not have an economic stake in this situation, other than being an Ocean City business for many years with an office in North Ocean City.
Finally, please ask yourself, would you actually wear a T-shirt today with that Smiley-face logo on it, one that was outdated so long ago? Is Ocean City part of the past?
Would you really want that logo on Ocean City water towers? Should that logo be painted on new or refurbished Town of Ocean City vehicles?
Please take a deep breath and ask yourself, how do you would think others would view you if they saw you with that Smiley logo on a T-shirt you were wearing?
Just our thoughts, off-the-cuff.
(The writer is the owner of the Ocean City Advertising Agency.)
We have been residents of Cape Isle of Wight in West Ocean City for over 20 years. I decorate every year for Halloween and always make sure I have candy on hand, just in case. Over the years, we have had a total of two trick or treaters, until this year! I would like to thank all the parents and their children for dressing up and trick or treating for Halloween on Torquay Road. It was such a special “treat” to see them all and hand out goodies. I hope they will be back next year.
West Ocean City