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Keep Austin Weird is the slogan adopted by the Austin Independent Business Alliance to promote small businesses in Austin, Texas. The phrase arose from an offhand remark by Red Wassenich (a librarian at Austin Community College) in a phone call to a local radio station. He and his wife, Karen Pavelka, placed the slogan on bumper stickers, distributing them free to businesses in Austin.[1][2] The slogan was later trademarked by Outhouse Designs and used to market T-shirts, hats, and mugs.[3][4]

One interpretation of the slogan is as a reference to the many small businesses in Austin, which give the city its unique cultural identity.

Austin's message of support for local businesses has inspired similar movements in other cities, including Denton, Texas; Santa Cruz, California; Portland, Oregon;[5] Tampa, Florida; Raleigh, North Carolina; Decatur, Georgia; Ann Arbor, Michigan; Louisville, Kentucky; Fayetteville, Arkansas; Indianapolis, Indiana; Missoula, Montana; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Arlington County, Virginia;[6] and Boulder, Colorado.

Contents

Culture

The “Keep Austin Weird” slogan reaches far beyond a marketing campaign, however. Austin reflects a culture of artistic and individual expression that maintains the city as a vibrant and eclectic creative center. In a mostly conservative Texas, Austin is “Weird” because it continues to be progressive in the arts and music. “Keep Austin Weird”, moves beyond a mere slogan, to reflect the dynamics that encompass Austin.

For example, in January 2009 alone over 1700 live music venues were supported[1]. Few cities in the world could boast such a broad spectrum of tastes. In addition, multiple festivals such as SXSW, Austin City Limits [2], Armadillo Bazaar [3] and the Batfest, among many others are highly attended with far reaching audiences.

Austin’s culture is further enriched by a multitude of artists such as actress Sandra Bullock, athlete Lance Armstrong, writer Bruce Sterling, film director Richard Linklater, actor Matthew McConaughey and fashion designer Tom Ford.

There are many other notable figures who make Austin their home exactly because the culture is “Weird” and highly supportive of artistic and creative personalities.

Criticisms

"Keep Austin Weird" seemingly promotes an independent, anti-corporate Austin, yet Outhouse Designs trademarked the slogan in 2003 and has used it ever since. Andrew Allemann, host of a satirical "Make Austin Normal" website, asks: "How can you have a commercial slogan that screams anti-corporation?"

Despite this criticism, the Keep Austin Weird campaign has proven successful. In April 2003, Borders bookstore withdrew plans to build a store near local bookstore BookPeople and local music shop Waterloo Records. In an article published by the Daily Texan, Abhinav Kumar writes:

A case study by Civic Economics, a strategic planning consulting firm, found that "local merchants generate substantially greater economic impact than chain retailers." The study revealed that if someone was to spend $100 at a chain like Borders, only $13 would be funneled back into the Austin economy. However, if you spent $100 at a local business such as Waterloo Records, about $45 would go back to fuel the Austin economy.

Additionally, in an Austin Chronicle article Civic Economics also revealed that over a 5-year period, $11 million dollars would have been siphoned off BookPeople and Waterloo Records.

Parodies

A number of parodies of Keep Austin Weird have arisen in recent years, including t-shirts printed with the phrases "Keep Dallas Plastic," "Keep Dallas Pretentious," "Keep College Station Normal," "Keep Round Rock Mildly Unusual," [4] "Keep San Antonio Lame," "Keep Lubbock Flat," "Keep Houston Under Construction," "Keep Houston Ugly," "Keep Houston Sprawling," "Keep Houston Gangsta," "Keep Georgetown Normal," "Keep Orcutt Metal," "Keep Waco Wacko," "Keep Norman Normal," "Keep Tulsa Lame," "Keep Abilene Boring," "Make Austin Normal," "Keep Plano High," "Keep Norman Dumb," "Keep Austin Reading," "Keep Austin Corporate," "Keep Austin Zombie" "Keep Fayetteville Funky," "Keep Wimberley Weirder", and "Keep South Austin even weirder".

References

  1. ^ Kumar, Abhinav (2006-12-04). "$2.1 million worth of weird". The Daily Texan: 1. http://media.www.dailytexanonline.com/media/storage/paper410/news/2006/12/04/Opinion/2.1-Million.Worth.Of.Weird-2520139.shtml. Retrieved 2007-09-11.  
  2. ^ Wassenich, Red (April 2007) (in English). Keep Austin Weird: A Guide to the Odd Side of Town. Thresher, C., Illustrator. Pavelka, Karen, Photographer.. Schiffer Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 0764326392.  
  3. ^ Kanter, Alexis (September 9, 2004). "Keep Austin Weird?". The Daily Texan. http://www.dailytexanonline.com/news/2004/09/09/Focus/Keep-Austin.Weird-713824.shtml. Retrieved 2006-03-16.  
  4. ^ Ross, Warren R. (2005-08-15). "Structures of justice". uuworld XIX (3): 1. http://www.uuworld.org/life/articles/1805.shtml. Retrieved 2007-09-11.  
  5. ^ "So, how weird are we?". The Oregonian. August 27, 2006. http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_product=OR&p_theme=or&p_action=search&p_maxdocs=200&p_text_search-0=weird&s_dispstring=weird%20AND%20date(08/26/2006%20to%2008/27/2006)&p_field_date-0=YMD_date&p_params_date-0=date:B,E&p_text_date-0=08/26/2006%20to%2008/27/2006)&p_perpage=10&p_sort=YMD_date:D&xcal_useweights=no. Retrieved 2006-12-13. "It was the folks down in Austin who came up with the idea of the bumper stickers, not Portlanders --whose weirdness could really stand to be amped up"  
  6. ^ "More Urban, Less Village: Thriving, Growing Clarendon Risks Losing Its Offbeat Edge". Washington Post. November 13, 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/11/AR2006111100743.html. Retrieved 2009-03-31. "...on a building that for years hosted a bustling weekend flea market, there used to be a giant mural of a single eye, below the motto: "Keep Clarendon Weird." That was replaced four years ago by a La Tasca tapas restaurant and a Palm Beach Tan salon"  

See also

External links

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