During the Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting that took place on the evening of Tuesday, November 10, a key matter of discussion was the rebranding initiative that has been underway during the previous few months. Citizens may recognize this initiative by the banners that have appeared at key locations throughout the city, bearing the novel slogan “Slawburgers, Whiskey, and Tennessee Heritage,” appended in some marketing materials with the tag line “Only in Fayetteville.”
Steve Chandler, a marketing consultant whose firm, Chandler Thinks, was hired by the city, was present at the meeting to provide an update on the progress and direction of the initiative, providing the Board as well as those citizens who were attendance with a look at some of the promotional and marketing materials that will be used to attract tourists to the area.
Chandler opened his presentation by noting that Fayetteville’s rebranding initiative should be viewed as a “marathon, not a sprint,” suggesting that the benefits of initiative will not be seen overnight. Think’s also noted that achieving this slow-success is “everyone’s job,” driving home the notion that rebranding and marketing will not be effective if those on the Board – and, indeed, those living in the town at large – are not willing to support the brand. Chandler expanded on this by suggesting that the “culture” of the town needs to be reflective of that which is advertised, adding that there needs to be a spirit of “fun” that is observable by those who choose to visit.”
Getting more into the substance of the initiative, Chandler noted that the City of Fayetteville’s official website is currently under some sort of overhaul. As such, the locus of online marketing will be onlyinfayetteville.com, which URL will take you to a splash page on which is printed the slogan “Slawburgers, Whiskey, and Tennessee Heritage. Behind this slogan, high-quality photographs featuring key elements of the city fade in and out. Scrolling down the page, one can find photographs of the Lincoln Theatre and Honey’s, accompanied by brief statements such as the following: “From the beauty of the gently rolling hills to the historic town square, from the bucolic and nostalgic to the new and untraditional, Fayetteville is rooted in genuine, distinctive homegrown flavor.” At the bottom of this page is a form for requesting a visitor’s guide and basic contact information for reaching the city.
After showing this site to the board, Chandler then proceeded to show more photographs that his team collected for marketing purposes, all of which are of professional quality. Chandler emphasized that the materials and the branding initiative as whole are intended to “tell a story,” bringing up the widespread use of the “Lincoln County Process” for distilling spirits and the first Tennessee Volunteers as examples of the various stories that these materials might tell.
Upon showing a commercial for the town that included footage of local residents and business-owners, the board appeared pleased with Chandler’s work, Mayor Michael Whisenant adding that anecdotally that a gentleman in Knoxville recently asked him about Fayetteville’s Slawburgers following the implementation of the rebranding initiative.
Toward the conclusion of the presentation, Chandler went into a bit more detail about some of the actions that are being taken to make the rebranding an effective exercise. A key detail he divulged was that the target of the advertising occupies a fifty-mile radius around Fayetteville, including Franklin and Brentwood. Additionally, a certain portion of the funding is being directed at advertising to Fayetteville’s own citizens for the purpose of getting people on board with the initiative. A specific example of this self-targeted marketing is a window decal that can be acquired by local businesses that reads “Only in Fayetteville,” ostensibly to create a branding homogeny among the diverse businesses that can be found on the square and elsewhere.
Other actions to be taken include the introduction of roadside billboards that contain the word “STOP” accompanied by a variation of the aforementioned taglines and a mile-marker indicating the sign’s distance from “Historic Downtown Fayetteville.”
Appearing pleased, the board had little discussion about this update, and public response to these additions to the branding initiative remains unclear.