By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 19, 2005 at 5:44 AM

{image1}Marketing a city is a must these days. Given that, how would you prefer to see Milwaukee hyped to the rest of the world? With a sleek, understated, classy mark that highlights one of the city's architectural treasures or with a pithy slogan?

If you're pulling for latter, consider some of these first ...

  • "The Circle City" (Indianapolis)
  • "The New American City" (Cleveland)
  • "The Queen City" (Charlotte)
  • "The Key to Your Future" (Kenton, Ohio)
  • "The World's Next Great International City" (Atlanta)

Changed your mind yet?

Thankfully, the folks over at Spirit of Milwaukee, which crafted Milwaukee's new advertising "look," have opted for the striking and direct approach of using a silhouette of the Santiago Calatrava-designed addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum.

"That was really for a variety of reasons," says Spirit of Milwaukee's Dean Amhaus. "First of all, they're forgettable and they're pointless. It really was Gary Peterson (Marketing manager, Dept. of City Development) that helped the light bulb go off. He listed all the cities on one side of a sheet of paper and all the slogans on the other side and said, 'match 'em up.' And you can't do it. They're frivolous."

Once the idea of a striking image was sealed, it wasn't much of a leap to the Art Museum addition, which has been putting Milwaukee into newspapers and magazines -- as well as in ad campaigns -- around the globe for nigh on three years now.

"It's a building that has created a great deal of pride for people here," says Amhaus. "We'd be foolish if we didn't jump on that bandwagon and run with it. Early on, we thought about the Art Museum and it became even clearer when we began to look at how a visual image can be impactful. It leaves an impression and we wanted a positive impression."

And, Amhaus says, what could make a better impression than Calatrava's first American building?

"It's innovative, it's dynamic. It begs the question, 'tell me more.'"

Brew City, of course, is a lot of things to a lot of people, including:

  • A place for cheap beer with "Milwaukee" in the name (Milwaukee's Best, Old Milwaukee)
  • The home of the Violent Femmes
  • Harleys!
  • "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley"

However, it's helpful to have something people can immediately associate with your town, and the Milwaukee Art Museum is becoming that icon; like Eero Saarinen's St. Louis Arch or San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge. But, a symbol in your city doesn't mean there's nothing else on tap.

Take Paris, for example. While the Eiffel Tower is undoubtedly the symbol of the city, it's just one of dozens of historic and important landmarks, from the Arc de Triomphe to Sainte Chappelle to Notre Dame to the Renzo Piano's Pompidou Museum and (egads) the Tour Montparnasse, to name just a few. Gustave Eiffel's creation is a welcome mat to one of the world's inimitable cities.

"The arch is cool, but that doesn't mean that St. Louis doesn't have anything else to offer," says Amhaus. "We are not to the level of the arch or the Sydney Opera House yet, though. They've been around a lot longer."

"But the Art Museum is simply a symbol of everything else that is going on in Milwaukee."

(Note: developed and designed, a Web site commissioned by Spirit of Milwaukee and was involved in the image and branding committee that worked on the new Milwaukee mark.)

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.