As Creative Director at Robot House Creative, Brian Winkeler, has been getting a lot of notice lately for it’s branding and marketing campaigns, including the Housewives of the 405 comic series promoting the Body Trends salon. Mayor Mick Cornett is asking the Oklahoma City Council to take his word as a self described branding expert that “Oklahoma City Boulevard” is the best name for the yet to be designed or built downtown boulevard and that no further examination of study of the matter is needed. Cornett wants the council to approve this street name tomorrow.
Winkeler disagrees with the mayor’s take on branding. Here’s what our Robot House friend has to say:
(UPDATE: The name was passed Tuesday by the Oklahoma City Council, 8-1) Do you ever get tired of hearing fabulous tales of the star-studded goings-on that take place on the west coast on world-renowned Los Angeles Blvd? Or the five-star dining and über-exclusive retail experiences to be had up north on New York Boulevard?
Of course not. Because streets with those names don’t exist in those cities. New York and Los Angeles and Chicago and (fill in your favorite major market city here) have major thoroughfares of culture and commerce with names that are unique, distinctive and memorable. Sunset Boulevard. Lake Shore Drive. Broadway (luckily, we’ve already got one of those).
Mayor Mick Cornett is inexplicably desperate for the boulevard at the epicenter of Oklahoma City’s Core to Shore development to be named…Oklahoma City Boulevard.
Oklahoma City Boulevard.
In the words of Seth Meyers, “Really?”
I like Mick. I can’t say I keep abreast of enough to know whether or not I should like him, but he did a great job with promoting that weight loss website a while back and seems to be doing a pretty good job continuing the momentum that Ron Norick built up during his tenure.
But despite being named the Oklahoma City Ad Club’s “Advertising Man of the Year” in 2010, Mayor Mick Cornett is not a creative professional. And from my perspective as an actual creative professional, I would be enraged at the idea of naming such an important piece of real estate so insipidly if I could only keep from falling asleep halfway through hearing it. I have no business trying to either be a mayor or read sports scores off of a teleprompter and Mick Cornett has no business trying to be a branding expert.
The job of the creative professional is to come up with a whole bunch of crappy ideas knowing that there will be at least one nugget of gold uncovered through the process. Get a group of top Creative Directors in town together to brainstorm names for this game-changing artery into the beating heart of 21st century Oklahoma City and “Oklahoma City Boulevard” wouldn’t even make it onto the board as a joke. It’s that trite. It’s that uninspired. It’s “Oklahoma is OK” reborn on a street sign.
Do you know where you’ll find major streets named after cities? In other cities. Miami Boulevard can be found in Dayton, OH. Our frienemies up in Tulsa have Boston Avenue. We’ve even got Portland Avenue here in town (though it’s thankfully free of suicidal, caffeinated hipster douchebags).
We’re better than “Oklahoma City Boulevard.” We’re cooler than “Oklahoma City Boulevard.” We are in the midst of a creative and cultural renaissance most of us would’ve never thought possible 20 years ago. Amazing things are happening here and, if Core to Shore does come together as promised and envisioned, it will be another amazing thing we can show off to the world.
What should it be named? I don’t know…yet. But speaking as someone who’s developed strategic branding campaigns for almost 20 years, I believe it should be named something unique. Something unexpected. Something that reflects the cool, creative, innovative culture we’re growing right now in our beloved city.
Oklahoma City deserves better than “Oklahoma City Boulevard.”