Bud Kennedy

June 24, 2014

Arlington’s ‘American Dream’ comes in all colors

The city’s new slogan and marketing campaign put cultural diversity front and center.

This definitely is not Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Arlington.

The Texas city named after the Confederate general’s Virginia hometown is now 150 years and a world removed from those roots and is newly anointed “The American Dream City.”

Arlington’s new slogan repositions the old “Fun Central” as an international city of education, free enterprise and family values in all colors.

This time, Arlington got it right.

After botched tourist slogans such as “Where the Crowd Goes Wild” and the hopelessly bland “Experience Arlington,” the city is re-wrapping itself in the flag, Americana and an honest appeal that transcends race and culture.

The spiraling growth of UT Arlington and the magnetic appeal of DFW Airport have made Arlington not only the center of Dallas-Fort Worth but also a global crossroad.

There is nothing subtle about that message in the accompanying video, featuring Arlington as a city of immigrant success and opportunity for all.

“Arlington really hasn’t had a brand,” said Jay Warren, the city’s marketing communications manager.

Actually, it has.

But not a good one.

Iconic Texas author Larry McMurtry wrote jokingly that Arlington was all cul-de-sacs and amusement parks. That image has been slow to change, although before the Final Four, New York-based writer Bryan Curtis described it as “ the new sports capital of America.”

The new slogan and video reposition Arlington for the next round of reporters coming for college football’s championship game and other sports and music events at AT&T Stadium.

The message focuses particularly on opportunity for people of color, from small-business owners to civic leaders such as school Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos, a 15-year resident.

“Without question, diversity is one of the things that makes Arlington unique,” Warren said.

“We felt like it needed to be front and center. It wasn’t meant as a political statement. It’s what happens in Arlington.”

Sam Houston High School Principal Fernando Benavides, featured in a video segment on education, said his students, many from immigrant families, represent “the true American dream story.”

“Arlington has these different communities and neighborhoods but still has a hometown community feel,” Benavides said.

“It’s really a representation of America.”

In one segment, executives of the new Super Chix chicken sandwich chain talk about serving Arlington’s varied tastes. In another, UT Arlington professors talk about students coming from around the world for research.

It’s all set to a fireworks-worthy soundtrack, with spectacular downtown scenes and a logo in contemporary typefaces.

Finally, Arlington is selling more than just fun.

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