After an online vote, and vetting by a panel of Korean PR experts, the city of Seoul announced that the official city slogan is now, “I.Seoul.U”.
Confusing? Perhaps. But this branding venture into the uncharted territory of the English lexicon is unique and like no other. So, there’s that.
The choice of the new slogan, which was announced Wednesday, comes amid a public outpouring of criticism, largely arguing that “I.Seoul.U” -as well as the other two options it beat out, “Seoulmate” and “SEOULing”- neither made much sense, nor captured the brand essence of one of Asia’s premiere cities.
The three choices were narrowed down earlier this month from a reported 16,000 entrants in an online poll as part of the city’s move to replace the current slogan, “Hi Seoul.”
According to the Korea Times, “Seoulmate” actually received more votes than “I.Seoul.U” in an online poll conducted to choose from the final three.
However, during a second live poll held at a special event in Seoul Plaza, all nine Korean PR experts and 682 out of a total 1,140 citizens present, voted for “I.Seoul.U,” while “Seoulmate” garnered only 232 votes. That sealed the deal.
Prof. Kim Yoo-kyung of Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Kim Hong-tak CEO of the marketing firm Playground and Prof. Seo Kyung-duk of Sungshin Women’s University were among the panel of experts, which included one native English speaker, reported the Korea Times.
Lee Ha-rin, a Korean student majoring in philosophy, was the entrant who came up with the I.Seoul.You slogan.
“It was very meaningful that Seoul citizens participated in the whole process from making to selecting the new slogan,”said panelist Seo Kyung-duk.
The new slogan will now be used to herald the city globally, appearing across the entire brand platform for at least the next several years. The previous slogan, “Hi Seoul”, which was also the subject of criticism, was used since 2002.
While the new slogan will likely get a fair share of international ridicule, people will at least be talking about “I.Seoul.U” –maybe that was the goal all along?
Who knows, millennials might run with it as a hip expression of affection:
“Oh, baby, you know I.Seoul.U. more than anyone else.”
Meanings behind the slogan options:
I.Seoul.U. — According to the city, the concept here is intended to suggest that Seoul is a place where two individuals can co-exist.
Seouling — This slogan represents a city undergoing constant change.
Seoulmate — This entrant is designed to suggest that the city can be friendly like a “soulmate”.