What Happens in Washington, Stays in Washington?

Washington seeks its own snappy catch phrase.


May 26, 2007 — -- As city slogans go, Las Vegas has set the new gold standard. The city's "What Happens Here, Stays Here" campaign has helped attract almost 40 million visitors each year to the Nevada gambling paradise.

Now, the nation's capital wants a piece of that action -- so much so that Washington is on the market for a snappy slogan of its own.

Hit the streets of Washington, and it is easy to find hats and T-shirts proclaiming, "D.C., The Nation's Capital." But items with a bona fide slogan on them are rare.

At one souvenir stand, the closest thing to a slogan was found on a toothpick holder reading, "I walked my feet off in Washington, D.C."

Most Washingtonians cannot even name their city's current slogan, which for the record, is "D.C., The American Experience."

That is not exactly a tourist magnet, so now the nation's capital is asking for help.

Washington's tourism department is accepting suggestions from anyone. So far, they've only received about 700.

D.C. tourism spokesman Andy Whittaker says one of the funniest, if not most practical, ideas so far is, "Washington, Watching a Ton."

"It took me a while to get it," Whittaker said. "But I thought it was humorous."

Other suggestions from the street?

"More marble than any other place in the United States," suggested one passer-by.

From another, a word sums it up: "Traffic."

None of those stuck D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty as the perfect slogan. In addition to taking suggestions from the public, Fenty has hired two firms to come up with a new slogan at the cost of $150,000. The city is also holding focus groups and conducting surveys, all in hopes of rolling out a new catch phrase this fall.

Finding the perfect slogan is about more than just creative competition, though. In 2005, only about half of all visitors to the capital were tourists, according to Washington's tourism department. The city hopes a good slogan could make D.C. more attractive to vacationers, which in turn could bring in more tourism revenue.

When asked if Washington can ever top Vegas when it comes to slogans, Fenty responded with a slogan of his own -- of sorts.

"I think the District of Columbia is a little different," Fenty said. "[But] still exciting in our own way."

"D.C., Still Exciting in Our Own Way." ... It's safe to say they're still working on it.

ABC News' Wendy Brundige contributed to this report.

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