Edgy slogan proves over the top for Fruita

Never shy to push the envelope when it comes to marketing itself to the often young, and sometimes edgy, mountain bike crowd, Fruita is considering a number of angles in a new campaign aimed at the female segment of the market.

And, as in past campaigns, one of the slogans colors outside the lines.

Among proposed taglines like “Girl’s Trip,” “Good Girls Finish Last,” and “Ride Like a Girl,” which were developed by Cobb Marketing and Communications, Fruita City Council members were given another option — “B——es Ride Too.”

Think “rhymes with witches,” to fill in the blanks.

“I am absolutely not going to spend one cent of taxpayers’ money on an offensive ad like that,” Fruita City Councilor Stacey Mascarenas said.

“It’s not appropriate in this community. We’re family-friendly. We’ve got young moms and kids who ride bikes. I don’t want my daughter, who rides a mountain bike, called a b——,” Mascarenas said.

At least one City Council member — Bruce Bonar — was not so quick to dismiss the admittedly unconventional pitch.

“Edgy campaigns targeted for a very specific audience — which is what this would have gone to — get the attention of the specific audience you’re trying to target,” Bonar said. “You wouldn’t send ‘B——es Ride Too’ to the Daughters of the American Revolution.”

“If you just go bland, what you get is, no one pays attention,” Bonar said.

The campaign with the six taglines was pitched by Cobb, the Grand Junction firm that has served as Fruita’s marketing agency for several years.

The agency has given push-the-envelope pitches in the past. A campaign a couple of years ago that was similarly geared toward mountain bikers featured a sport-utility vehicle packed full of outdoor equipment and parked at a trail head with the tagline “Hell yeah.” The Fruita City Council rejected that idea, as it did last week the controversial b-word option of the current campaign.

Jennifer Grossheim-Harris, client services manager for Cobb, said the agency approached the city at the beginning of the year with a campaign targeting female mountain bike riders.

“We thought it was a market we hadn’t tapped yet,” she said. “The other hope is if you capture the female, you’ll capture the family as well.”

Cobb used a local photographer to capture an image of a local rider on the Horsethief Bench trail. The idea for the “B——es” tagline came from Nathan Carson, Cobb’s graphic designer.

Grossheim-Harris said the goal was to give Fruita a range of options and allow city officials to decide what they felt comfortable with.

“We knew that it was very edgy and it might not appeal to everyone,” she said.

Reaction was mixed, she said. Some on the Fruita Tourism Advisory Board liked the edgy wording. Others thought it went too far.

“I never thought that one was going (to get approved), but I’m interested in having the discussion,” Bonar said. “If you don’t let (Cobb) think outside the box, you really limit your options.”

The recent campaign conversation harkens back to another promotional effort in 2012, when Fruita residents Steve and Denise Hight pitched the “WTF: Welcome to Fruita” idea. Then, too, city councilors rejected the idea of using the phrase in any taxpayer-funded marketing efforts by the city, but the private sector took the idea and ran with it. “WTF” stickers can still be seen around town today.

“We got coverage all over the country for ‘Welcome to Fruita.’ What did it hurt us?” Bonar said last week.

“Shock factor can be fun, attention getting is fun, but you don’t want to alienate or isolate your citizens,” Mascarenas said. “Bring us something that isn’t offensive — to women, to men, or to anybody.”

Citizens can weigh in on the new promotional campaign — selecting which of five, not six, taglines they prefer — on the city’s tourism Facebook page. Search “Fruita Tourism” to find it.

You can also see all six Cobb pitches with the online version of this story at http://www.gjsentinel.com.

Managing Editor Mike Wiggins contributed to this report.


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