State Decides To Keep Its 1-Year-Old Travel Slogan

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - The state Department of Development has decided to keep the year-old travel slogan "Ohio: So Much to Discover," about two months after the governor's office questioned the effectiveness of the phrase.

The announcement was made in conjunction with Friday's release of Ohio's 2002 tourism guide, Discover Ohio. The 120-page magazine highlights places to go and things to do in Ohio.

For the first time, Discover Ohio is also available as a CD-ROM. In addition to replicating information in the guide, the CD-ROM offers links with the Department of Travel and Tourism's Web site.

There, visitors can make hotel reservations and get up-to-date information on weather and road conditions.

In January, Gov. Bob Taft's communications director said the state would reassess the effectiveness of its new slogan about a year after spending $2.8 million on "Ohio So Much To Discover!" and a comprehensive travel and tourism marketing campaign.

"In my travels around the state I really have not heard anyone use the slogan, refer to the slogan," Mary Anne Sharkey said at the time. "And so that obviously gives you some concern."

Gail Crawley, Development Department spokeswoman, said Friday that the agency intends to stick with the slogan and accompanying campaign but will continue to monitor its effectiveness.

"It's a new program, it's less than a year old, it needs to have a chance to implant itself," Crawley said. "It's going to continue, but we're going to continue to assess it, to make sure that it's effective."

The state is hiring a new travel and tourism director after firing the former director, Jim Epperson, who helped develop the slogan. The new director will have a chance to review the campaign and make changes, Crawley said.

Epperson was fired because of problems with the division, including a TV tourism commercial that had to be substantially changed, Sharkey has said.

The division added an ending to the commercial featuring Gov. Bob Taft. But the state had to make numerous other changes because the commercial lacked diversity, concentrated too much on the

Cleveland area and included an insensitive image of an American Indian in war paint, Sharkey said.

The tourism guide and the CD-ROM are being offered free by calling (800) BUCKEYE.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)