‘Better before the bridges’ blowback: Officials stand by new slogan

Feb 12, 2020

Despite blowback, officials are standing by the new slogan for Wareham: “It’s better before the bridges.”

The slogan was announced on Jan. 28, alongside a new logo featuring a sailboat, as part of an effort to boost tourism to Wareham and promote the town as a destination and not just a gateway to pass through on the way to Cape Cod.

Much of the reaction on social media and around town has been derisive, with many people saying they prefer “Gateway to the Cape.” Some have said that the slogan is too negative, and that it casts negative aspersions on Cape Cod.

Joe Sauro, the owner of the Gateway Tavern, used his electronic sign to speak out against the change, programming it to read “Make Wareham Gateway Again.”

When asked about his disagreement with the new motto, Sauro said there was no reason for the change, as he didn’t see anything wrong with associating the town with Cape Cod, a well-known tourist destination.

“It just sounds silly,” he said of the new motto, adding that it is unnecessarily divisive “as if two kids were fighting.”

He said that he named his business after the old “gateway” motto 21 years ago, and is now in the process of starting a new business called “Gateway Motors.”

Sauro also expressed frustration about his perception that the decision was not voted on by the people of Wareham, but appeared to be made by a couple town officials.

Town Planner Ken Buckland explained that the slogan had been one of many proposed by the Belfort Group, a marketing firm hired by the town to help improve its image.

Other possibilities included Off-Cape and On the Rise; No Cape Necessary; Miles of Coastline, Not Traffic; and A Destination, Not a Gateway.

The slogans were then discussed by various groups of people and voted on in an online poll, which Better Before the Bridges won.

While Buckland said that the response is not exactly what was intended, the slogan has led to more people talking about the town.

Stories about the new tagline ran in many newspapers and on several tv stations, which Buckland said was “all good press for identifying the town and making sure people know it’s here.”

Additionally, Buckland said that the town has received many calls and emails praising the campaign and the new website, www.discover-wareham.com.

Marie Oliva, the head of the Cape Cod Canal Region Chamber of Commerce, said that she doesn’t think the new slogan is divisive: “I don’t think it’s a problem to differentiate yourself.”

Richard Swenson, a member of the Redevelopment Authority and the Planning Board, said that the “gateway” tag had long rankled him.

“I came to Wareham in 2013, and I never could understand ‘Gateway to Cape Cod’ because I wanted people to stop here and make Wareham their destination,” Swenson said. “I’m very pleased that we’re focusing on Wareham, not Cape Cod.”

Town Administrator Derek Sullivan has also been pleased with the chatter about the new tagline.

“The amount of talk has been tremendous,” Sullivan said, noting that the goal of any publicity campaign is to get people talking. He said that the slogan was not meant to hurt anyone’s feelings.

The town is also promoting the hashtag #discoverwareham, which has been used by two Instagram influencers in paid posts focusing on the businesses in Wareham and the town’s natural beauty.