The Philly Visitors Bureau Hates Philly

The PCVB — oh, excuse us, PHLCVB — has come up with a scheme that undoubtedly sounded brilliant in pitch meetings but boils down to lazy-webbing its way to marketing the city:

A new marketing effort by the agency is centered on the idea of encouraging its partners — including government agencies, nonprofit organizations, corporations, colleges and universities — to help promulgate its stories about Philadelphia as a “modern renaissance city.” The agency is calling those open-source aspects of the effort unusual, if not unique.

Materials like images, videos, fact sheets and logos will be available for sharing on a new Web site for the agency, at Visitors to the agency’s current Web site,, will be redirected to a new Web site,, in the coming weeks.


But here’s what’s worse — “Philly,” which is what people who actually live in and love the place call it, “doesn’t resonate in the international market,” so instead we’re to be known hereafter by the tag of our universally despised airport:

The idea for the agency to use PHL in doing that stemmed from a need for “a clean, memorable mark that would be recognized internationally,” Mr. Jacobson said.

In working with a client, “one thing we usually look for is whether there is a language that already exists” rather than needing to create one from scratch, he added, and in this instance PHL fit the bill.

“People got it, especially internationally,” Mr. Jacobson said, “and we told the PCVB, ‘We already have an identity; let’s use it, let’s make it fun, contemporary, relevant.’”

Of course, Philadelphia also has a second short name by which it is known: Philly. For instance, the Web address of the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation is

“We’re ‘Philly,’ too, and that’s great, but it shouldn’t be our lead brand,” Mr. Jacobson said, because “internationally, very, very few people understood what ‘Philly’ was.”

“ ‘Philly’ is a slang term that harkens to a ‘Rocky’ attitude,” he said, referring to the movie series set in Philadelphia, adding: “We’re proud of that; it signifies resilience. But does that represent what Philadelphia is to the world?”