THE RANT: Please don’t call it Cape Fear anymore

Tags: , ,

Submitted: Tue, 07/12/2011 - 8:38pm
Updated: Thu, 07/14/2011 - 1:58pm

Every major city between here and the Florida state line has a huge, memorable brand.

You may think Myrtle Beach is touristy and cheesy, but there’s no question what you’ll get when you visit. Shopping, shows, a plethora of miniature and big-boy golf plus a long “Grand Strand” of beaches and surf. It’s not an overstatement… there’s something for everyone to do in Myrtle Beach.

Then you’ve got Charleston, which is a bit more sophisticated with its Revolutionary and Civil War history. Church steeples dot the skyline while quaint shops and restaurants line city streets. And the “Low Country” boasts some of the best shrimp and grits recipes in the world.

Travel a little farther south, and you’ve got Savannah. Cute, historic Savannah. Home of “Goodnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” Paula Deen and one heckuva St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

And then you’ve got Wilmington, epicenter of the Cape Fear Coast, right? Well, not any more. The brain trust at the Brandon Agency, an ad company in Myrtle Beach, thinks we should be called “Wilmington: River District and Island Beaches” now. Snazzy huh? Puts me right to sleep.

I can’t think of calling our fair area anything more vanilla or generic. What in “Wilmington: River District and Island Beaches” would make anyone want to visit here. “Hey Martha, let’s check out Wilmington! It’s got a river… and beaches!!” “Well I would have never imagined that, Rufus,” says Martha. “Let’s go right now!”

It’s like calling the Battleship North Carolina a “big boat on the river” or The Oceanic “a place to eat on the beach” or Jason Thompson “an outgoing county commissioner.” Well no kidding!

Cape Fear is a huge brand we’re now choosing to throw away like last weekend’s leftovers. To some it may bring to mind pirates and shipwrecks and crazy killers on boats, but at least it’s memorable. When the Weather Channel says a hurricane is headed for the Cape Fear Coast, everyone knows where that is.

And we PAID for that new moniker? Surely if we had opened it up to people living here they could have come up with something more creative for less than the tens of thousands we spent on this.

All because the beach towns felt left out of “Cape Fear Coast.” So we lose our generations-old uniqueness, but at least now everyone’s happy.


  • Guester says:

    no, this company doesn’t handle the Wilmington Convention Center’s business. There are actually people who live in Wilmington that work there and have offices there. They don’t ship people up here to work in the convention center from Myrtle Beach.

  • Guest PR person says:

    The WCFCCVB is afraid the name “Cafe Fear” will scare a few dollars away yet they scratched out a phat check to an out of state advertising/marketing agency to handle the job of promoting our unique region.

    Ms. Nelson, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” much too much.

  • Connie Nelson-PR Director WCFCCVB says:

    First and foremost, this exciting new campaign is a work in progress. It will evolve as more visitor research and tourism partner/stakeholder input crystallizes. It will become final in late August after it has been presented to and approved by the TDA Board. In September, the TDA will present the campaign to the tourism industry, at which time we will provide local travel partners with a marketing “package” that will include logo, files and a branding, positioning and messaging usage guide to ensure marketing consistency across the tourism industry.

    As the official destination marketing organization for New Hanover County, it is the Tourism Development Authority’s (TDA) responsibility to promote four distinct entities. In destination marketing, the primary objective is to promote the destination from a geographical perspective. The secondary objective is to create a sense of place in the mind of the visitors. In this day of GPS technology, it is imperative to lead with an actual destination name over that of an obscure brand name. The beach towns have graciously set aside individual destination marketing to allow the dominant destination brand – Wilmington – to take center stage. For the first time in more than 20 years, Wilmington is being positioned as the lead “portal” through which vacationers locate, consider and eventually experience our vacation paradise. Name recognition is exponentially enhanced by branding the single destination “Wilmington, NC”, versus an obscure name like ‘Cape Fear Coast’.

    The tag ‘Historic River District & Island Beaches’ elevates value by suggesting in one place – Wilmington, NC – a visitor can experience a unique collection of tourist assets from the river to the sea. This tagline is meant to more clearly define the area when advertising and marketing to reach visitors in a cluttered communications and digital age and to position against competitors who use the dominant city’s own name for marketing. Defining the single destination with the tag of ‘Historic River District & Island Beaches’ as opposed to ‘Cape Fear Coast’ quickly indicates an historic and entertainment district located on the river and multiple beaches that offer multiple vacation opportunities. The destination website and marketing materials will further extend the messaging to detail all product assets. In a spirit of cooperation and unity, the TDA Board, which includes elected officials from the three beach towns and the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County, have agreed on an umbrella brand that will add their considerable coastal assets to Wilmington’s ‘portfolio’.

    Overall, both tourist and stakeholder support of the new campaign/brand direction has been statistically and overwhelmingly positive, providing the TDA clear and powerful direction for marketing the collective destination.

    We love the residents of Wilmington and the Beaches and we value their passion and pride. However, and with the utmost respect, the target audience is the visitor (a.k.a. our customer) and how they would most relate to a more clearly defined brand and tag line.

  • Guesttoo says:

    There are eleven states that have a city or town named Wilmington. Eleven. What a way to go from uniqueness to mediocracy! Even SENCland would be better than the suggested moniker. Hey!, how about “Cape Fear Coast”?…oh, wait a minute…

  • KrisC says:

    If it’s a Myrtle Beach, sounds like they’re promoting the Grand Strand instead. It will always be the Cape Fear region to anybody in the know.

  • stoopid taxpayer says:

    Not only is this absolutely a bad idea to mess with the Cape Fear moniker, but to pay an OUT OF STATE agency to do it for us. This agency also handles out convention center business.

    Next time I see council spend money out of the area Im moving to where ever it is they seem to find all these experts.

  • S'port says:

    Doesn’t the “River Beaches and Island District” River flow into The “Big Eastern Puddle of Salt Water” somewhere near here?

  • Wilmywoody says:

    Just stop spending money on these sort of things along with the mini-vacations for school officials,…Frivolous spending needs to come to a screeching halt before our entire country completely crashes because of it.

    We don’t need to be rebranded by some folks that don’t live here or just got here. This area has done just fine attracting people, look around. Wilmington is on the Cape Fear River near Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville Beaches. Seems this area is trying to get too big for it’s britches and ruining the very thing that attracted people here in the first place.

  • SurfCityTom says:

    omitted one important piece of information.

    What was the cost for this display of advertising dynamics?

  • Guestknows says:

    Just check out our drivers. Highest accident rate in the State.

  • albrightt says:

    I don’t care what a company from South Carolina wants to call it – It was Cape Fear, is Cape Fear and will always be Cape Fear. Maybe we should call them the rename everything company – It’s our history, ask a local not a foreigner.

  • Cape Fear Fred says:

    We’ll always be known as the Cape Fear Coast. Those in beach towns who feel left out, fail to understand the meaning of the phrase. And it sounds like our local government is spending money based on their ignorance. The region and the river is named after the Cape itself, a marine feature. Cape Fear is a large obvious geographic point jutting seaward just like Capes Hatteras and Lookout. So it’s an obvious moniker for our region that is not bias away from beach towns. What shameful waste of money to cowtow to those who, like little children, truelly don’t understand what they are upset about and who have little enough reverence for our historic region as to want change its name. Rarely do you see such arrogance and ignorance combined into action.

  • Guest569887 says:

    when I first heard of this, I told my husband that was the stupidest idea I have ever heard of….we all need to tell the TDA that this is stupid. “Cape Fear Coast” does indicate beaches….if the area beaches want differnt brandning let them come up with the money….by changing the name you are taking away a strong history….we have been the cape fear region for eons….we are not some cheesy place like myrtle beach….this AD agency needs a new muse, b/c their creativity is suffering

  • Doris Reiner Poulot says:

    I moved to France from Wilmington 11 years ago. When I have to explain to a local where I come from, two things make their ears perk up: Michael Jordan’s hometown and The Cape Fear. River district and Island Beaches? Isn’t that pretty much ANY town on the east coast?

  • Guester says:

    This idea was the brainchild of the county & the convention and visitors’ center. By the way, to correct the poster below, the convention center was paid for purely with tourist dollars, not taxpayer dollars, and money for the inland greens course was borrowed in 2006 when voters overwhelmingly approved the parks bond.

  • John A. Difloure says:

    Myrtle Beach most likely paid the ad company to rename the Wilmington area so Myrtle Beach would draw tourists from Wilmington to Myrtle Beach. Was this a Saffo moment?

  • Guest2012 says:

    Kiss my Grits!

  • Whatelseisnew says:

    I agree it’s a stupid name. But you can’t please all the people all the time. Especially not the “financially endowed” in Wilmington. Guess what whiners? The stupid name is not going to hurt tourism…not anymore than the proposed parking increases, questionable security,and lack of much outside of bars will hurt downtown.

  • Denise Bass Daughtry says:

    Why in the world would we need to try and fix something that isn’t broke? I am a Wilmington native. I was born and raised right here and I love telling people why we call it the Cape Fear River. I love the name “Cape Fear Coast”. It sets us apart. Why would we want to change that?

    We should have spent that money on something more important than trying to improve on something that didn’t need improving in the first place.

    Remember when Coca-Cola tried to improve its formula and came out with new Coke? Remember what an EPIC FAIL that was? Remember how quickly they brought the classic formula back?

    We are already a classic. Why can’t we improve the way we sell our city without changing of the things that makes us unique?

  • Robert Murray says:

    Why change? We have been told that change is good and we have seen evidence that is not always so. People have come to the Wilmington area (and the beaches) for years and will continue to do so, because of the people and their memories. Changing the name of an area will do nothing except confuse anyone about where they want to go. We should strive to provide good service, good food, and a welcome to our area attitude. This is presented to our guests in the vast majority of our businesses and this will spread throughout the country by word of mouth. After all what’s in a name if you don’t keep it clean and honorable?

  • FIRE174 says:

    Another stupid move by our city decision makers. I really think they are all brain dead!! First we waste millions of dollars on a convention center without a hotel and not big enough to host some great conventions that have already expressed interest, millions on a tract of land in Inland Greens, and now who knows how much to come up with this idiotic slogan that I will never use nor will tell anyone about.

  • WX_Guy says:

    Perhaps I should consider a career in marketing and advertising if this is the caliber of competition. Let’s do a quick back of the cocktail napkin exercise:

    This area has a long standing tradition of using Cape Fear.

    Wilmington and the beach towns want prominence in the description.

    Other coastal communities use Gold Coast, Silver Coast, Crystal Coast, etc. but they are already taken and pun intended, perhaps a bit tarnished or cracked. Where are they anyway?

    What does the Wilmington area have, uniquely or not, to attract visitors? Beaches and water activities; battleship and historic sites; bars and restaurants; shopping and museums; etc. Greensboro and Fayetteville have bars, restaurants, shopping, museums etc. too but bottom line: while the other attractions add to the area charm and breadth of interest, what sets Wilmington apart is the water, especially the beaches. So the beach towns have a legitimate argument for a more prominent role in the description of the area.

    Cape is simply too good of a gem word describing a piece of land jutting into the sea to give up and Fear is a bit edgy to boot. Think Cape Canaveral, Cape Cod, Cape Hatteras and the first word to mind is SEA. So why not simply add “& beaches” to the well established “Cape Fear” description to make “Cape Fear & Beaches” or simply, “Wilmington & the Cape Fear Beaches” which is simple & descriptive too.

    Thirsty work, this!

  • Wade griffis says:

    I am just an old reformed redneck and I don’t hardly know nothing much, but renaming the Cape Fear Coast seems like it don’t make much sense.

    It would be kind of like if you were a boy and your daddy named you Sue.

  • Myrtle Beach says:

    “the Brandon Agency, an ad company in Myrtle Beach”

    Isn’t this from the same town that used to BUS HOMELESS PEOPLE TO WILMINGTON, to get them out of Myrtle Beach.

    If you want the traffic and smog go to Myrtle beach.

Leave a Reply