“Be An Original”: An Advertising and Marketing Cliche Becomes the Centerpiece for Rowan County’s Rebranding Effort

Posted on November 18, 2016

Todd Paris, Staff Writer and Salisbury Attorney

♦ “Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery” Charles Caleb Colton

County Commissioner Edd’s $500,000 re-branding effort was released this week (He takes credit for it) at the Chamber of Commerce at an exclusive twenty five dollar a plate breakfast and our new slogan, is “be an original.” “Be an original” is well known on Madison Avenue as a much abused advertising and marketing cliché.

Originality is very important, particularly when it comes to copyrights, trademarks, patents and such things. This slogan seemed awfully familiar to me and at first I recalled soft drink ads. A quick Google search brought forth the following:


Still recall the CDC’s anti-drug campaign using the slogan “Be an Original” in a 1987 public service announcement. Take a look twenty seconds in.

While I doubt Rowan County could be confused with a shampoo or an anti-drug ad and there would likely be no copyright issues, I still don’t find our new brand all that “original.” I guess I was expecting a little more for around 160K of the full 500K price.

I don’t get it. Be an original what? Are we looking for businesses owned by “original thinkers” and rebels who march to a different drummer and decide to come here instead of somewhere better?

To come full circle I finally found it: Dr. Pepper’s slogan from 1970s-77: “The Most Original Soft Drink Ever.” Perhaps we should “be a Pepper too.”

The video was pleasant and somewhat cutesy although I doubt it could trick anyone into visiting Rowan County.

Rowan County’s Version of “Be an Original:

Oh well, at least it beats Edd’s “Holy cow, who are these people!” and “Fake it till you make it.” Sigh…

More “Be An Original”:

Posted in: Articles