Lincoln pays marketing company $5,000 to name civic plaza

By Deena Winter | Nebraska Watchdog

LINCOLN, Neb. — For years, the city of Lincoln has planned to convert one-quarter of a downtown city block into a civic plaza , and for all those years, the working name for the urban park was simply “civic plaza.”

But apparently that wasn’t a good enough name for the $3.64 million
plaza, which will eventually be anchored by a towering, 57-foot-tall, multicolored, glass, lighted tower created by famed Japanese sculptor Jun Kaneko — one of the mayor’s favorite artists who just so happened to land the contract after an unusual bidding process that seemed skewed to favor Kaneko.

CHRISTENED: Lincoln’s downtown civic plaza now under construction at the corner of 13th and P streets now has a new name, after the city hired a marketing company to come up with it.

Such a colorful plaza surely required a more colorful name, so the city tapped an edgy youth marketing company to come up with a new name. In April, they hired Archrival, a renegade Lincoln company that does marketing stunts for companies like Red Bull, hiding cans and posting clues on where to find the free energy drinks on Facebook or delivering crates full of the cans to college campuses worldwide in what’s been called “the biggest guerrilla stunt ever.”

This is also the company that was paid $600 to write wacky tweets for a University of Nebraska-Lincoln chancellor, such as “What’s a chancellor got to do to get some decent chocolate chip cookies around here?”

So perhaps people couldn’t be faulted for expecting Archrival to come up with a real zinger of a name when the company was tasked with renaming the plaza for the princely sum of $5,000.

SOARING: A rendering of the civic plaza Jun Kaneko designed for the city of Lincoln.

So what did the geniuses at Archrival come up with?

Drumroll, please.

Tower Square.

We asked our Twitter followers what they thought of the name. John Brown said the city should have had a contest to name the plaza. UNL gadfly Dan Moser posted a YouTube video of Homer Simpson saying, “Quit boring everyone” and called it “a swing and a miss.”

Nathan Olson said, “I like it, but please tell me that wasn’t the only task in their contract. I hate that we use consultants for these things.”

We checked with parks director Lynn Johnson, and indeed, “coordinating the name selection process” was the only task associated with the $5,000 contract.

Contact Deena Winter at deena@nebraskawatchdog.org. Follow Deena on Twitter at @DeenaNEWatchdog

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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