“Get Midwest”- A generic campaign that is guaranteed to fail.

“Be Midwest” logo developed by Turner Effect and Real Art for the Dayton Development CoalitionDaytonOS announced the development of the “Get Midwest” campaign long ago, and I mentioned then that this was a doomed campaign, created by Representative Michael R. Turner’s wifes firm, The Turner Effect.

After meeting with Maureen Patterson of the Dayton Development Coalition, I tried to tell her that “Get Midwest” fails the fundamental “Swap Test”- that is, if your slogan or ad, could just as easily be used by Detroit as Dayton, it fails. No heed was paid, and today, the campaign was officially announced in the Dayton Daily News:

Coalition launches marketing campaign
The Dayton Development Coalition is rolling out a marketing campaign and counting on participation from businesses, corporate executives and local governments to promote economic development and attract investment to the region.

A $2 million contribution from the Mathile Family Foundation, headed by Dayton entrepreneur Clay Mathile, will get the marketing/branding effort under way for at least the next year around the country and across the 12-county Dayton region.

Coalition officials said they welcome the Mathile contribution, and hope that the region’s corporations and local governments will join in the effort to spread the marketing message and its accompanying brand logos across the country for years to come. The campaign is to continue for years, with adjustments as needed to reach target audiences, coalition officials said.

Those developments were being announced by the Dayton Development Coalition and the Mathile Family Foundation this afternoon during the coalition’s annual meeting at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.

The brand “Get Midwest … We Think of Everything … Dayton Region,” is to appear in upcoming months in national media, trade journals and other forums as part of the campaign.

Corporate chief executives and volunteer “brand ambassadors” from around the Dayton region will be recruited to adopt and spread the marketing message as well, coalition officials said.

The brands were developed during the past two years at a cost of $1.5 million, the combined total of state funding and private contributions plus support from the development coalition, said J.P. Nauseef, its president and chief executive officer.

Nauseef said the marketing campaign will be part of the coalition’s effort to promote regional investment and attract companies and individuals from around the country to boost four industries identified as key to the region’s future: aerospace research and development, information technology, advanced materials and manufacturing, and human sciences and health care.

The campaign will highlight the region’s job opportunities, affordable real estate and cost of living, educational and arts organizations, and easy work-home commutes, Nauseef said.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2242 or [email protected].

About the campaign

It was shaped by the Dayton Development Coalition, a not-for-profit regional economic development organization of more than 250 members, including companies and about 25 local governments.

The coalition has hired two Dayton firms, Real Art Design Group Inc. and Turner Effect, to provide design, communications and public relations services to carry out the campaign.

The Dayton region is defined to include Auglaize, Butler, Champaign, Clark, Clinton, Darke, Greene, Miami, Montgomery, Preble, Shelby and Warren counties.

An insider told me that when he saw the campaign, he too was scratching his head, but the only person to speak up and question the emperors new clothes was none other than Dr. Benjamin Schuster.

There is no doubt the campaign looks good and professional. Real Art is a talented firm. The problem is in the positioning- “Midwest” is an area that even mapmakers have a hard time defining. Part of the problem is that this was a decision by a committee of who-knows-how-many people, and none of them, have one iota experience with branding.

If elected, I wouldn’t let my firm engage in work for quasi-public firms, especially ones as politically charged as the Dayton Development Coalition. It’s one of the key differences between me and my opponent.

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24 Comments on "“Get Midwest”- A generic campaign that is guaranteed to fail."

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Don’t get even get me started on this one, David.

Charles Halton

They are throwing an incredible amount of money at a dumb campaign. What does “Be Midwest” mean? It seems like a meaningless phrase to me. Furthermore, unless you own a trucking company location doesn’t mean much anymore so they miss the point by highlighting this. If I were a business owner this wouldn’t do a thing for me.


The Turner connections are interesting. Look at the FEC database for individual campaign contributors to Turner. They included the Mathile family and Dayton Development Coaltion officials (i recall that Nauseef fellow was listed)


David, I know you are skeptical of this creative class stuff. But can anyone imagine an ad campaign as opposed, conceptually, to “creative class” idea than this one? “Be Midwestern” might as well say “We’re Hopelessly Square and we Like it That Way” ,

American Gothic with computers. Yay.

One can riff on “being Midwestern” in a fun/ironic way, the way Columbus does, and also bit like that “Fargo” movie or Prarie Home Compansion, or the Wisconsin cheesehead thing.

And there is that witty “Share Louisville” branding initiative (check out their “Oblivion Ohio” ad)


David Esrati
David Esrati

You can also find most of the people at Kettering Health Network donating the maximum- and they keep TurnerEffect busy too.
The problem with “Be Midwestern” is that it doesn’t tie to DAYTON.
Share Louisville or the t-shirt I got- that has a slogan (which I can’t remember right now)- at least ties to Louisville.
There have been successful area ads- “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas”- “I (heart) NY” etc.
This doesn’t tie back to Dayton. That’s the problem.


So is it “Get Midwest” or “Be Midwest”? If it’s “Get Midwest” I think it would be much more effective if they could tie it in with a mustache somehow…

David Esrati
David Esrati

I guess they changed it from the original logo- I can’t find the new one online.

Theresa Gasper
Theresa Gasper

Let’s try a novel approach here – let’s try studying some of the available information instead of the typical “shoot first, ask questions later”. We didn’t hire the village idiots to work on this campaign, can we please try a little respect.

Check these out for a broader scope…


I’m so tired of the criticize everything that is not my idea approach of this town. Dayton is at a crossroads and we’ve got the chance to really turn things around and create the REGION of our dreams – but we can’t do it when we’re always critizing and taking pot shots at the people who are willing to put their necks on the line.

What is wrong with just getting behind the people who are trying to promote the region and make it better for ALL of us. We have something very special here in Dayton, but you’d never know it reading all the sarcasm dripping from all these blogs!

Richard Florida hasn’t even come to town yet and we’re already flunking big time on the “Tolerance” test.

The logo is what it is – we can sabotage it then say “see I told you so” or we can get behind it and promote the region and its values and enjoy the good things that result. I know which route I’m taking.


I agree…….. get behind things that might make a change, for the better (cross your fingers)

KY has taken over the Ohio River by building, some things worked, others not so much, but they moved forward. Other businesses replace failed ones, such is life. OH (Cincy) has taken 423 years to look at that same river, and want endless input from people who cant spell their own names……..nothing has been accomplished.

This idea is why I will vote for David Esrati – I have endless differences with him, but enough is enough, we need to move FORWARD, for the better (cross your fingers)

David Esrati
David Esrati

Sorry Theresa,
You did hire the village idiots- it was a political patronage job, handed out to Congressman Turner’s wife.
Don’t feel bad- the new Wendy’s campaign cost way more than this- the one with the red wig- and it bombed too.
This fails on so many levels, it’s embarrassing. Go back to http://daytonblogs.mostmetro.com/dayton_topics/2008/01/get-midwest—w.html?cid=98048220#comment-98048220 to see how many other people think this is a botched job.
Same on the Dayton Daily News site:
Believe it or not, this is one area I’m qualified to judge. It’s what I do for a living. This campaign isn’t going to cut it.
Back to the drawing board. And, yes, it looks great, and their lines sound so believable- but that doesn’t excuse it’s fundamental flaws.


Tolerance test ? Richard Florida ?

You have the right attitude, Theresa. Just the wrong information.

Try starting your own business and see what happens when you get blacklisted or denied work because you don’t “play nice” and you have the guts to speak your mind, or because of a general lack of acceptance amongst the little social networks the permeate the households and country clubs of the south suburbs while making decisions that are bleeding the inner city dry.

Then lets talk about tolerance.

David Esrati
David Esrati

Jim, I’m going to defend Theresa here- there are a few honest people out there- who still believe the system is benevolent and good. Theresa has done some very admirable things, but, she doesn’t yet know who her real friends are.
She still believes in the proverbial tooth fairy- and “you gotta pay to play, Mike Turner”
She really needs to head over to Daytonology and read these two posts:
and maybe even this one- where Turner is voting to help oil wildcatters- who of course, help him win:
Theresa got to go to Congress to tell us all about how she is doing a private/public partnership in South Park- courtesy of Mr. Turner. She’s still a believer, even though she may take a licking on the houses as the market falls apart.

J.R. Locke

Not to jump on here Mrs. Gasper but Dayton has been at a crossroads for 30 years and nothing has been changed, except maybe the spreading of Dayton out to regionalism? And this spread seems to be the problem with the region. The core of Dayton is terrible and if we call this “region” the Dayton region….well Dayton screams poverty, prostitution, drug use, crime and failing schools. At least it does to all the folks I know. Who refuse to live anywhere within the city limits.

Maybe Mrs. Gasper is right with trying something that doesn’t tie to Dayton. Be Midwest is generic and well that is what we are trying to sell in Centerville, Beavercreek and Bellbrook right? This really has nothing to do with the city of Dayton does it? Cause I don’t see the connection. This is the region of Dayton and whatever that is, is what this is all about in my eyes.

Theresa Gasper
Theresa Gasper
Geez, can we all stop talking about me like I’m not here! David, thanks for defending my honor, but you know I can take care of myself. Jim – I’ve started two businesses. Oh, you’ll all love this one, but let’s just put it out there. The first was an executive suite and our niche market was DEFENSE CONTRACTORS. Ooops, you know what else, we occasionally did work for TURNER MARKETING – mainly helping with data entry for large mailings they were hired to do. And yes, Mike Turner, invited me to be part of a Congressional Hearing in Dayton to tell the story of how we used private investment to hold RehabaRama. Which, coincidentally is the brainchild of Turner and Phil Parker. You know what? I did it to get our story in the Congressional Record. And you know what else, there were some DEMOCRATS on the panel. Oh my! The second business is about revitalizing the inner ring – two of us now own nearly 30 houses in South Park and have bought some pretty disgusting, vacant properties that are now practically brand new. We’ve invested nearly $3m between us. And yes I am taking a bath on some of them in this market, but I didn’t do it to make money, I did it to give back because I have been so blessed. Oh, and I belong to a country club, but I live in an East Suburb and no one I know schemes about ways to destroy the inner ring. I just think we have a lack of planning and that sprawl & development is out of control. OK, that aside. I LOVE the City of Dayton. Period. I don’t play politics, I know who my friends are and there are few people I don’t get along with. I trust people until they give me 14 good reasons not to. In spite of his endless sarcasm and constant criticism of all things I love, I like David Esrati. What I am tired of is the “US vs THEM” mentality. I am soooo tired of the criticize… Read more »
David Esrati
David Esrati

Hi Theresa, Thanks for admitting in public- you like me. Lot’s of people don’t have the guts to say that.
All the rosy outlook won’t help a campaign that doesn’t have the right message. Wendy’s thought they had a winner with the red wig. I’ve even launched a few campaigns that didn’t do what they were supposed to. Marketing isn’t an exact science.
Reality- “Dayton Region” becomes “Dayton”- and it’s a start.
Reality- “Midwest” doesn’t define us, or even work in our favor. If you’ve spent time on the coasts- we’re the “Flyover region”- and insignificant to the big brains. Just remember, NCR just moved it’s C-level suite to NYC. They don’t want any part of the “Midwest”
Instead of selling Dayton, we’re now forced to also sell “Midwest” to people who don’t like it. We’d do better to do “Get Big10”- they get that (joking).
I’m going to shut up about this. My views won’t change. I’m not putting “Get Midwest” on my site- I’ll wait for Dayton’s rebranding- and then consider it.


Got Esrati?
Get Esrati!


Theresa Gasper
Theresa Gasper

“Hi Theresa, Thanks for admitting in public- you like me. Lot’s of people don’t have the guts to say that.”

How did I know you’d jump all over that statement!!!

OK, let’s talk basic marketing now, David. You know as well as anyone that if you don’t have a good product, it doesn’t matter how good the branding is. So instead of worrying about the brand, the slogan or the campaign, why don’t we focus on being the best City/Region we can be. Besides, if we don’t do something soon, we’re going to lose our status as our own MSA and just become a suburb of Cincinnati. Why not go with “Dayton Region” and let Cinci become a suburb of Dayton?

Why don’t we stop focusing on all we believe is wrong and start focusing on what is right. I read a story about a old Native American explaining to his grandson that we have two wolves living inside us. One is good and is about truth, loyalty, love, peace, justice, kindness, etc. The other is bad and is about lies, war, hatred, jealously, bitterness, greed, etc. The grandson asked “which one wins?” and the Grandfather said “the one we feed.”

How about you start a thread that people can only list what they love about Dayton…or about The Campaign? Nah, I suspect that would make your skin crawl, buddy! :)

Signed: The Eternal Optimist

David E Bowman

Got Midwest? “I Get It” or “Get Real.” Cast your vote:

Thanks David for starting and hosting this debate. Fascinating to follow.

Greg Hunter
Greg Hunter

(Good Inner Wolf)
Theresa, I was on the sprawl issue for a long time and Dayton did not listen, so we are in a jam and now it does not matter anymore as more critical issues have arisen that require our attention (Jobs, inflation, food and energy). I lament the previous waste of the investment dollars, because what now needs to be done to right the ship will cost more money and requires more understanding. I am willing to jump on board of the Creative Class/Be Midwestern band wagon if you would be willing to help in future ideas.

For me the 12 county region thing works, because the ideas that I have will bring value to those areas. This effort would combine the collective resources of WSU, Sinclair and the UD Research Institute. It would involve agriculture, electronic controls and renewable power. I am starting to move on from trying to convince people to stop doing things, because it makes no sense and I am working on ideas that will require Creativity and meaningful work to complete. The future looks dim if we do not meet the challenges of Energy, Food Supply and Water. I think a 12 County approach could work and the first thing I would work on would be to form and group, outside the defense group at the Coalition, to identify water intense businesses that could move to our area. Atlanta has some great data on water usage and the Dayton Region could provide some powerful incentives to locate here, including giving away abandoned homes in Dayton as long as the person paid the tax. I will be working on these ideas and hope to bring interested people along.

Theresa – I just get so pissed when none of the Creative Class ideas ever got a hearing in the Community and with the advent of the Internet that has changed, we are providing a service that the Dayton Daily News and the Journal Herald once took to heart.

Theresa Gasper
Theresa Gasper

Greg – you feel very strongly about this community and you have a lot of ideas. Why not apply for one of the Calalysts positions for the Creative Class Initiative. Go to http://www.soche.org to sign up.

I’m glad you touched on the 12 county REGION. There have been comments here that it shouldn’t be the Dayton REGION it should just be Dayton. But I don’t believe people from Troy, Sidney, Springfield or other cities within the 12 counties tell people they’re from Dayton – I think they say Troy, Sidney, Springfield… Then probably go on to say it’s north or east of Dayton or halfway between Dayton & Columbus.

If you or others are willing and able to make the one year commitment to the Initiative, then please sign up to be catalysts. What I love most about the process is that we’re going for diversity in all forms, cultural, economic, professional, gender, age, etc. This will be a grassroots efforts. So for all of you have said on this blog or others “well, no one asked me” THIS is your chance. And if you don’t want to be one of the catalysts, you can still be involved. The more we engage in the Community, the stronger the outcome will be.

Greg Hunter
Greg Hunter

Quote concerning optimism from my favorite site for intelligent science posting.

Individuals have a tendency to be overly optimistic, and therefore naturally discount ‘pessimistic’ viewpoints and worldviews. Adults are particularly vulnerable to self-deception when comparing their own intelligence and attractiveness to others.(5) Research has shown that we systematically exaggerate our chances of success, believing that we are more competent and more in control than we really are. 88% of people think they are better drivers than average. 94% of professors believe they are better at their jobs than the average professor, etc. (By definition, almost half of those surveyed are ‘overly optimistic’.)

Greg Hunter
Greg Hunter

Thanks Theresa and I am glad I did not post my Inner Bad Wolf thoughts. I will save that side for prowling my favorite Dayton watering holes. :)

Theresa Gasper
Theresa Gasper

Greg – reminds me of a great line from Tom Dye from Atlanta, former President of The Executive Suite Association, a trade association I was involved with. He used to say “it’s better to aim for the moon and shoot the barn, than it is to aim for the barn and shoot your foot.”

I just believe that we manifest what we focus on – so I try to keep my thoughts positive. It’s as simple as switching from “we’re losing all of good jobs” to “we need to create more jobs” or instead of “well Dayton screams poverty, prostitution, drug use, crime and failing schools” we could say “Dayton will be a better place when we increase jobs, turn around the economy, help people become sober, self reliant and responsible, and schools become stronger.” One thought focuses on what we don’t want (our fears), the other focuses on what we do want (our goals).

“Research has shown that we systematically exaggerate our chances of success, believing that we are more competent and more in control than we really are.” What’s so wrong with that? Isn’t it better to believe we’re better at something than we really are, than to believe we’re worse at something that we really are?

I believe that’s the problem with Dayton right now – we believe we’re worse than we really are; if we could just get over that hump, the rest of the ride would be a lot easier!

Yvan Melnikoff
Yvan Melnikoff

If the $1.5 million dollars had been thrown down as a prize in a competition open to regional universities/art schools, or anyone willing to pony up a nominal entry fee to compete in the branding campaign, Dayton could have filled up the town with its’ first “creativity/development” festival of the presentations to which art work of the sort already being posted at

All branding entries would undergo an art show type jury as a screening process, and a formal visual presentation would be required of every accepted entry. Dayton’s branding could have been a “Sundance” symposium of regional marketing ideas within which marketing/pr/advertising, business, business development creatives could network, conduct workshops, hold seminars. The winner would be determined by some sort of scoring system from a celebrity jury, community and audience input. Broad based regional consensus, buy-in and commitment to support and develop the campaign would result naturally from the process.

The appeal of a lottery style regional branding contest is a natural MSM story and a natural internet viral opportunity (= free PR) for the campaign from beginning to end,…the process is self generating because it is driven from the bottom up. It is the appearance of the current process as “top down” that guarantees resentment against, and resistance to any product produced.

Yvan Melnikoff
Yvan Melnikoff

” to which art work of the sort already being posted ”

could be solicited and shown.