The Big Apple vs. America’s Finest City

The Big Apple branding campaign was launched in 1971, whereas America’s Finest City was launched in 1972. The comparison of success and staying power between the two is daunting.

The Big Apple (1971)

“A 1971 campaign to increase tourism to New York City adopted the Big Apple as an officially recognized reference to New York City.  The campaign featured red apples in an effort to lure visitors to New York City.  It was hoped that the red apples would serve as a bright and cheery image of New York City, in contrast to the common belief that New York City was dark and dangerous.  Since then, New York City has officially been The Big Apple.” (

Forty years hence, most people around the globe recognize New York City as The Big Apple. It projects well, and backed by the “I  NY” merchandising campaign launched in 1977, has been a phenomenal success.

America’s Finest City (1972)

The 1972 Republican National Convention was originally scheduled to be held in San Diego, but the RNC decided to move the event to Miami at the last moment. The loss of this prominent national convention was a significant disappointment to San Diegans. In response, Mayor Pete Wilson single-handedly came up with the slogan America’s Finest City as a way to cheer up San Diego.

Forty years hence, America’s Finest City remains a self-glorifying slogan that fails to project outside city limits. Almost no one around the globe recognizes San Diego by America’s Finest City. This identifier, along with a string of inconsistent, throw away ad-campaigns seeking short-term tourism, has effectively left San Diego without a brand or message on the global stage.

Why is this allowed to continue year after year?

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