Creating a new international tourism slogan for the city of Hangzhou

Accurate Group – Hangzhou Tourism Commission Briefing Document

Topic:            ‘The key elements of a city slogan’ – Hangzhou Tourism Commission Brand / Slogan Seminar
Speaker:       Niall O’Reilly, Managing Director Accurate Group Limited (
Location:       2 Floor, Zhangming Music Library, Hangzhou West Lake 6th Park
Date:              20th February 2014

Dear ……

Thank you for inviting me here today.  I am Niall O’Reilly, Managing Director of Accurate GroupChina Market Makers –, and Director for China, Irish Exporters Association. This is my 25th year in China, the last 8 years of which I have been based in Hangzhou.  Previously I have been responsible for Asia Pacific marketing for two leading USA-based multi-nationals. One of the Asia Pacific marketing campaigns I directed with global advertising agency BBDO won a gold medal at the Malaysia advertising awards.

How to capture the appeal of Hangzhou in one slogan? Read the tea leaves - Hangzhou's Longing (Dragon Well) Tea
How to capture the appeal of Hangzhou in one slogan? Read the tea leaves – Hangzhou’s Longing (Dragon Well) Tea

Impressions of Hangzhou’s Tourism Product

Hangzhou has enormous foreign tourism potential.

  • Some 4 million foreign tourists visited Hangzhou in 2012.
  • Cathay Pacific / Dragonair (Hong Kong), Qatar Airways (Middle East), Ethiopian Airlines (Africa), KLM / Air France (Europe), EVA Air (Taiwan), ANA (Japan) and Asiana Airlines (Korea) now offer direct flights to Hangzhou’s Xiaoshan International Airport.
  • In 2015 China is expected to overtake France as the world’s top tourist destination

It is against such a backdrop that ever pioneering Hangzhou was the first mainland China city to put into practice an ‘open door’ global policy of promoting its tourism industry to more than a dozen new markets including United Kingdom, Germany, France and United States.

Nevertheless, foreign tourists will only be attracted to travel by the quality of Hangzhou’s tourism product which would need to be amongst the very best in China. We would note, for example, while Hangzhou was once a stronghold for Islam in China, with historic Arab connections dating back 900 years, Hangzhou’s tourist product offering for high-spending visitors from the Middle East and the Gulf States arriving in Hangzhou by way of 5 Star airline Qatar Airways is far from world-class.

Moreover, to break into these new markets Hangzhou tourism planners would first need to invest in focused programs which both highlight competitive strengths and positioning and have a track record for consistently delivering outstanding and innovative experiences. The resulting niche tourism products would likely be targeted at high value foreign tourists, encouraging them to either start or end their China trips in Hangzhou.

Hangzhou has strengths in key niche areas of tourism, which, if effectively marketed, will certainly entice this high-spending foreign tourism segment.

  • Cuisine
  • Medical tourism
  • Meeting, convention and exhibition facilities
  • Outdoor adventure
  • Historic and cultural heritage

All of which are covered by Hangzhou’s proximity to Shanghai and the city’s Number 1 attraction: Four seasons of spectacular scenery.

Creating a new tourism catchphrase for Hangzhou

According to the book “Creative Advertising” by Charles Whittier:

“A slogan should be a statement of such merit about a product or service that is worthy of continuous repetitive advertising; is worthwhile for the public to remember; and is phrased in such a way that the public is likely to remember it.”

However, it’s a difficult job to capture the appeal of a destination such as Hangzhou and plug it into a hard-hitting, effective slogan.

Some slogans become real hits

  • Egypt, where it all begins” is the impressive tourism slogan of Egypt, which intends to highlight Egypt’s historic status as a cradle of civilisations
  • It’s more fun in the Philippines” is the cheery / happy travel slogan of the Philippines.
  • 100% pure New Zealand” is the marketing slogan of Tourism New Zealand, which reflects New Zealand’s image as a clean, green, adventure playground.
  • Jump into Ireland, the tourism slogan of Tourism Ireland (north and south) is designed to convey a sense of playfulness and to reflect the stimulating nature of a holiday in Ireland with unforgettable experiences and warm, friendly people.
Other effective slogans which we like are
  • Mauritius – It’s a pleasure” – clean and simple
  • Brazil – Sensational!”

 Some slogans can be vague, unclear and even disturbing

  • I Love (heart) New York” is the travel slogan many others try to emulate, but what does this catchphrase really convey about New York?
  • South Africa: It’s Possible!” is South Africa’s tourism slogan. This slogan gives you no reason to visit South Africa
  • Visit Bangladesh Before Tourists Comewas the tourism slogan of Bangladesh!
  • Colombia: The Only Risk Is Wanting to Stay”, Columbia’s tourism slogan, could potentially cause more harm than good, by highlighting the reality of “risk

Clearly some of these slogans’ unfortunate suggestions could have been caught early with international testing, and I therefore applaud the Hangzhou Tourism Commission and the Hangzhou Office of Foreign Affairs officials who have invited long-time foreign friends of Hangzhou here today to sound out our opinions regarding the four suggested new slogans for marketing Hangzhou in these new markets.

In my opinion, when developing a great inspirational slogan for Hangzhou — I am thinking along the lines of, for example, Subway’s ‘Eat Fresh’, Nike’s ‘Just Do It!; Sony’s ‘Make. Believe’ etc — five key elements need be adhered to:

  1. Recognition. An effective slogan for Hangzhou must stay consistent with the Hangzhou brand name either obviously stated or strongly implied. It’s better to include the name of Hangzhou in it.By putting the Hangzhou name in the slogan, every time people hear it and see it, they re-imprint it and keep it top-of-mind. People identify with the name.
  2. Unforgettable. Some of the best slogans, such as those just highlighted, are still being used today, even though they were launched more than a few years ago.  Such slogans are memorable.
  3. Useful. The chosen slogan should show Hangzhou’s intention and benefits of the tourism product by conveying the message in consumer language. Imply the risk of not using the product. Create a positive feeling for the consumers. – Such a slogan should be beneficial.
  4. Differentiation. In an overcrowded tourism market, brands in the same industry need to set themselves apart through a creative and original slogan.
  5. And finally, keep it simple. Use proven words and short keywords.  Seven words or less: One word is usually not enough.

4 Final Slogans for Promoting Hangzhou Overseas

A diverse representation of 15 foreigners – including company owners, hotel managers, magazine editors and teachers – living in Hangzhou from periods of a year to over twenty years, were assembled by the Hangzhou Tourism Commission and Hangzhou Foreign Affairs Office to choose which one of the following four final slogans created by Shanghai Advertising Company would be best suited to promoting sophisticated brand image of Hangzhou overseas (in particular to reach tourists in Europe and the Americas).

  • Infinitely Hangzhou!
  • Authentic Hangzhou!
  • Hangzhou: Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate
  • Hangzhou: A Living Poetry

The Shanghai Advertising Company account manager urged those present to consider each slogan in terms of four aspects:

  • “Relevance with Hangzhou City”
  • “Words elegancy”
  • “Pronunciation”
  • “Sense of Picture”

Infinitely Hangzhou!

Even against an appropriate setting of iconic Hangzhou panoramas, similar to “Brazil -Sensational!” or “Mauritius – It’s a pleasure”, for the intrepid tourist planning his/her first trip to China, having already ticked Beijing, Shanghai, and possibly Xian or Guilin, “Infinitely Hangzhou” comes across as rather vague.  Infinitely what? Infinitely full of surprises or infinitely full of hope? What does “Infinitely Hangzhou” have to do with anything?

Of course, to those of us with even a basic knowledge of Hangzhou, simple “Infinitely Hangzhou” suggests a city of unlimited cultural expression.  Yet, it will take first-rate emotionally appealing photographic backdrops to disarm “Infinitely Hangzhou” of its mind-numbing blandness. Hangzhou is an inviting and truly diverse city for those tourists that endeavour to discover its appeal.  With respect to Hangzhou, a single word slogan will not generate an effective emotional impact.

Authentic Hangzhou!

With China’s heritage disappearing at an alarming rate in the race for modernisation, authenticity is a much sought-after, and increasingly elusive, quality that rates high with foreign tourists. As such, the slogan “Authentic Hangzhou” stakes Hangzhou’s claim to a rich historical past which continues to be alive and well. “Authentic Hangzhou” can also refer to Hangzhou’s natural landscape while underscoring the genuineness of its people.

Yet the slogan “Authentic Hangzhou” manages at the same time to be boring, nebulous and almost superfluous. Hangzhou may be the first Chinese city to start promoting itself to European and American markets, but soon numerous cities throughout China boasting an international airport will be getting in on the act, which begs the question: How effective will the slogan “Authentic Hangzhou” be in adequately articulating the unique attributes of Hangzhou, including the authentic experiences of Hangzhou’s history, architecture, cuisine and culture? Doubtless the tagline will be paired with colourful images, but it’s unclear whether visitors will make the connection between the slogan and the city’s emphasis on authentic experiences.

Hangzhou: Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate

While “Hangzhou: Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate” is the first to clearly state to spell out specific benefits of Hangzhou’s tourist product offering, the three ‘Rs’ make it sound like a catchy spa slogan. If truth be told the tagline does define what a vacation is all about, but in this case is more suggestive of warm beaches bathed in year-round sunshine, when in fact Hangzhou has four distinct seasons.  Moreover, Hangzhou purists would argue that the tagline “Hangzhou: Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate” completely negates seven thousand years of history.

On the positive side Hangzhou with its close proximity to Shanghai and growing direct international access via Xiaoshan International Airport is the ideal place for visitors to either China and relax prior to traipsing around the country and for unwinding following a hectic cross China sight-seeing schedule. If this is indeed the intended message of “Hangzhou: Relax, Recharge, Rejuvenate” then the slogan needs re-working, not least because “recharge” and “rejuvenate” are quite unoriginal and are more or less tantamount to the same meaning.

Hangzhou: Living Poetry

Hangzhou’s natural beauty and historic treasures, which embrace many aspects of Chinese culture, have been a source of inspiration for poets and painters throughout Chinese history. In contrast with modernising cities across China, including Shanghai, although Hangzhou has been through many recent urban developments, much of the city’s natural, historical and cultural heritage remains unchanged from what has been depicted in literature for centuries. As such,  the slogan “Hangzhou: A Living Poetry” asserts that in essence nothing has changed about Hangzhou’s enduring allure, even if the city is China’s fourth largest metropolitan area, an appeal which, if properly packaged, would have to be enticing to China-bound European and American tourists. 

Moreover, by portraying Hangzhou as a poetry in motion, “Hangzhou: A Living Poetry” comfortably encompasses the notions of “infinitely”, “authentic” and “relax, recharge, rejuvenate” as set out in the previous three taglines.

As such “Hangzhou: A Living Poetry” proved to be the most popular of the four slogans, although tweaked a little to make it more Now: “Hangzhou: Living Poetry”.

Hangzhou: Living Poetry” – A simple, yet memorable, slogan for marketing the Hangzhou brand image to European and American tourists that people will identify with and which, by demonstrating the benefits of the city’s own matchless tourist product, clearly differentiates Hangzhou from would be competitors.

Hangzhou: Living Poetry
Hangzhou: Living Poetry


Niall O’Reilly

Managing Director, Accurate Group Ireland China Market Makers


Twitter: @AccurateChina

China Office : Accurate Group China, Hangzhou – O: +86 571 8709 1253

Ireland Office: Accurate Ireland, Dublin – O: +353-1271-1830




A Meal On A Spanish Tramp Steamer – By Liam O’Reilly

“Caught in the throes of a revolution, I found myself at the Spanish port of Valencia after a tedious 16 hour train journey. After six days and nights a tramp steamer put in, and I succeeded in getting taken aboard to enjoy (sic) the pleasures of a cruise to Liverpool.

I wish the boat wouldn’t roll so much! Down she goes, now she is up again. Still I do not think the rolling is as bad as yesterday, so I will get up and try the Spanish breakfast.

“Buenos Dias” Captain,

“How are you this morning?”

“Oh! Not so bad. I feel I can eat a little to-day”.

“Si, it is nice now”.

The table is set, with places for the captain, first and second mates, and myself. There are two decanters of Spanish wine, a plate of rolls in the centre, and ranged around these are several small dishes. At each place there is a knife, fork, and soup spoon (the same knife and fork is used for all the courses), and four plates, one being for soup.

The “entremeses” or entrée this morning consists of sardinas (sardines), anchoe (anchovy), and hamon (raw ham). Having tasted a little of each, we really started the meal.


The second course is “Sopa de ajo” in a large earthenware dish, and all that meets the eye at first is about a dozen-and-a-half eggs joined together and lightly fried.  Having taken three or four eggs you find underneath a coloured liquid, which is oil, and pieces of bread and garlic. You put this on your soup plate, mix it up, and eat it with your soup spoon. (The boat seems to be rolling more now that I have tasted this dish).

And now for “Bacalao,” or Swordfish, follows. This is served in another earthenware dish with oil or sauce. You eat the fish with bread and wash it down with wine.

While the captain and the others are eating this I take a course in Auto-suggestion, and I find the boat must be now in a calm spot, she is so quiet.

Here is something I can try to eat, it is named “Abichuela con Verza.” This is really a very simple dish, although the name is long, and the recipe is: baked beans decorated with large slices of fat.


We are slowly coming to the end, as I find I have only one plate left in front of me. At last something I will feel at home with, “Patatas y Cerdo” (chips and pork). But I am afraid there is something wrong, because it is definitely not the same as Irish pork – still, I can get my teeth into it.

“Yes! I will have some Membrillo” (this is a type of solidified jam, and it is cut into small pieces, and placed – not spread – on the dry bread).

“Queso?” (cheese).


“Frúta” (fruit)


“Ouva” (grapes), “Manzana” (apples), “Melcotones” (peaches), Castañas (roasted chestnuts).

“Ouya, por fabor (please).

To conclude this early morning feast we will have some black coffee, and a Spanish cigarette, which must be tasted to be known – and will be known at a range of 20 yards ever afterwards.

It is now 10.45a.m., an hour and three-quarters since we sat down, so I’ll finish my cigarette in the air.


I am glad I was able to eat some breakfast because the next meal is timed for 4 o’clock in the afternoon. It is an “old Spanish custom” that you only get two meals per day when at sea. When I eat again, if I am able to, I shall spend about two hours at the table, for at the later meal there will be two other dishes in addition to those I have mentioned.

This article appeared in the newspaper the Irish Weekly Independent on November 24th, 1934. It was written by my father Liam O’Reilly who was 21 years old at the time of writing.

Travelling in the Basque region of northern Spain my father Liam O’Reilly became caught up in the turmoil that was the Asturian miners’ strike of October 1934, an armed uprising by miners and other workers in the mining towns of Asturia in north west Spain, known as the Revolution of Asturias, which developed into the class and regional conflict that became the Spanish Civil War two years later.

In response to a call by opposition anarchists and communists opposing the rising power of the catholic and right-wing Confederation of the Autonomous Right (CEDA) party, on October 4th the armed Asturian miners occupied several towns, while the provincial capital Oviedo was taken by October 6th.

The revolt was finally crushed on October 19th by hitherto unknown General Francisco Franco y Bahamonde. 3,000 miners were killed in the fighting and another 30,000 taken prisoner. Convinced the revolutionary uprising had been meticulously planned by Moscow, General Franco felt the brutal use of colonial Morrocan regulares and the Spanish Foreign Legion troops from Morocco, and the Spanish Navy to repress the revolt (including the torture, rape, and summary execution of Spanish civilians) was wholly justified.

A Meal On A  Spanish Tram Steamer - By Liam O'Reilly: Asturias-miners
October 1934 – Asturian Miners surrounded by troops

Comparable to my own experience in Beijing in June 1989 (read more at, it is easy to imagine the turmoil, fueled by the Spanish Navy’s bombardment of the Asturian port of Gijon, rumours and counter rumours of port blockades, frontier closures, troop movements, and escalating general strikes which would have caused my father to take flight for the eastern port of Valencia: His Tiananmen Square moment.

My modern day equivalent of a Spanish Tramp Steamer was a Cathay Pacific Boeing 747 from Beijing to Hong Kong (to evacuate about 10 members of the Irish community in Beijing). Unfortunately I don’t recall the menu!

Related reading: ‘4.15pm May 8th 1973’ recalls the day my father Liam O’Reilly went to meet his maker.

Steamer typical of the tramp ships operating between south European ports and Liverpool in the early 1930s
Steamer typical of the tramp ships operating between south European ports and Liverpool in the early 1930s