Travel tagline ‘Not for everyone’ as Nebraska senator pushes for more coordinated messaging

This story was originally published in the Nebraska Examiner.

LINCOLN. Nebraska received a lot of publicity after it unveiled the state’s brash tourism slogan in 2018: “Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”

Omaha Senator Mike McDonnell (Courtesy of the Unicameral Information Bureau)

But a state senator suggested Thursday that more unified messaging could be achieved if the state’s director of economic development and the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce were more involved.

After all, the Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s proposal to recruit workers into the state – “The Good Life Calls” – is a little different.

State Senator Mike McDonnell of Omaha originally proposed in his Legislative Bill 624 that the State Tourism Commission would cease to operate as an independent organization and return to being a division of the DED, as it was prior to 2013.

Mapping Nebraska

The Nebraska Tourism Commission reported record $7.2 million in housing tax revenue in 2022, up 18.3% from the previous record set in 2021.

The commission also noted in its annual report that the slogan “Honestly, it’s not for everyone” helped elevate Nebraska from the “least likely” state for travelers to visit to 45th in the country.

“The campaign is helping put Nebraska on the map,” the commission said.

Original sentence “not for everyone”

But, McDonnell joked, his original offer “wasn’t for everyone.”

Under a compromise amendment he proposed on Thursday, the commission will remain independent but its board of directors will be revamped and the 12-member board will be joined by the director of the state’s DED, as well as a representative from the State House.

This, according to McDonnell, will lead to more unified messaging in future campaigns to attract tourists and new residents.

“Singing from one note,” Senator Gordon Tom Brewer described it during the hearing on the bill.

Representatives from state housing and travel associations testified in favor of the revised proposal.

These were the groups that a decade ago pushed for the creation of an independent tourism commission, arguing that tourism promotion would become a higher priority for the state if it were not part of a larger government agency.

The slogan ridicules the state

Tony Goins, director of the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, announces new grants from Gov. Pete Ricketts’ Young Talent Initiative. (Paul Hammel/Nebraska Examiner)

During Tuesday’s legislative hearing on the DED’s budget request, senators on the Appropriations Committee questioned DED director Tony Goines about the “Good Life Calling” campaign’s alignment with the “It’s not for everyone” travel slogan.

“It’s not good when we have two different messages,” Omaha Senator Tony Vargas said.

Goines said he disagreed.

“As an agency, we don’t feel like we should be ridiculed,” he said, noting that the slogan was coined by a Colorado-based advertising firm.

The Legislative Assembly government, the Armed Services and Veterans Affairs Committee took no action on the bill after Thursday’s public hearing.

The Nebraska Examiner is part of Newsroom States, a network of newsrooms supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. The Nebraska Examiner maintains editorial independence. For questions, please contact editor Keith Folsom: [email protected]. Follow Nebraska Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.

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