Snohomish County rebranding as ‘Seattle NorthCountry’ to attract visitors
It’s not uncommon for Pacific Northwest residents to tell people they’re from to somewhere near Seattle. They’ll say something like “just outside of Seattle,” so people have an idea where they’re talking about. Snohomish County has taken that one step further.
The Snohomish County Tourism Bureau is rebranding the county as “Seattle NorthCountry True PNW” to attract more visitors, which some understand as a marketing strategy, even if it may be a tad irritating to locals.
“If I was a Snohomish County resident I would be outraged personally. How dare you. I’m proud of my Snohomish County heritage, but I think this is so smart,” said KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney. “I’ve never been to Portugal and our family’s going to go in July. Lisbon is the capital. Now if there’s a little town next to Lisbon I would never know to look it up. But if it’s called ‘Lisbon North’ I’d
probably would check it out.”
“‘Oh what’s this place? Oh, it’s only like a half an hour drive away and it’s cheaper than Lisbon,’ maybe I’d stay there. I think it’s brilliant marketing even though if I was a Snohomish resident, I think I’d be a little insulted.”
Snohomish County officials told The Herald that the county generated approximately from $2 billion from tourism and outdoor recreation in 2017, and that’s expected to grow with the recent opening of Paine Field airport. They recently trademarked “Seattle NorthCountry” and hope to further capitalize on their proximity to Seattle with its national tourist appeal.
“Would you be insulted or would you think that all my property values are going to go up?” wondered co-host Danny O’Neil. “Or maybe you look at it from a lesser Snohomish perspective and you’re like, ‘Oh no I like it the way it is.'”
The campaign is aimed at people looking to vacation in Seattle, emphasizing the outdoor recreation, cheaper hotel stays, and local culture, all just a little north of Seattle, as they present it. The branding appears to be working. Snohomish County tourism officials told KIRO 7 TV that their social media engagement has gone up since they began the campaign.
“Our brand is not possessive of Seattle,” executive director Amy Spain told KIRO 7. “It’s not ‘Seattle’s.'”
For Tom, the move is bound to pay off.
“I think it’s a pretty ballsy move on their part, and they claim that internally we’re still Snohomish, but to the world why not go with it?” he said. “We bash Seattle so much on this radio station. You know Seattle’s bad for this or bad for that, but it still has some panache for people that don’t know the area.”
“And so to align yourself with Seattle despite all of its problems … I think we’re still something to be a claim for.”
Listen to the Tom and Curley Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.