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New Times / News

The following article was posted on February 13th, 2013, in the New Times - Volume 27, Issue 29 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from New Times [newtimesslo.com] - Volume 27, Issue 29

Welcome the Heart of the Central Coast

BY PATRICK M. KLEMZ

Every collective of communities needs a member to serve as the butt of its jokes—a Delaware, if you will. Atascadero has fulfilled that role in San Luis Obispo County for quite some time. However, with the city’s centennial celebration right around the corner, Atascadero officials want to reinvent the town’s image to tourists.

At its Feb. 12 meeting, the Atascadero City Council unanimously approved an 18-month, $234,000 marketing plan proposed by local public relations firms TJA Advertising and Mental Marketing.

“The Heart of the Central Coast,” Mental Marketing’s Bill Stansfield said, presenting the new slogan to the council. “This is a tagline, but it is also a headline.”

The strategy will brand Atascadero as a place to kick back and relax after experiencing the Central Coast. The main part of the project will involve overhauling the VisitAtascadero web site, which sees less than 900 visits a month (500 from the link on the city’s own site). By contrast, the Pismo Beach tourism site gets roughly 1,500 visits per day.

Council members generally approved of the plan, but added some suggestions. Councilmember Roberta Fonzi took up issue with use of the familiar term “A-Town” in some of the firms’ proposed materials.

“I found it distracting, and I don’t like it, personally,” she said. “Maybe it’s just me being grumpy, but I found the term A-Town to be not complimentary to a certain demographic.”

Fonzi also mentioned that the logo’s font made the word Atascadero hard to read, and suggested using a “solid heart background.”

City administration began soliciting bids in September to develop a comprehensive marketing plan like the one already in place in neighboring Paso Robles.

Councilperson Heather Moreno recognized Atascadero’s lack of retail shopping and events relative to other nearby towns. She asked what the city could do to fulfill tourist expectations.

“My worry is that we’re going to sell Atascadero as this wonderful place, and people will get here and say, ‘Wait a minute,’” Moreno said.