Of course, there are a million wonderful things that will never leave you. Memories are the best example. The memory of your grandmother’s homemade pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving will never leave you. Your memory of the first time you went swimming in the ocean, how it felt, will rise to the surface every time you swim in the ocean for the rest of your life.
But, unfortunately, Panama’s old “It Will Never Leave You” tourism campaign flopped. The slogan received a nomination for Worst Tourism Slogan by The Titanic Awards due to the many negative interpretations it engendered. Because there are, in fact, many things that will never leave you that you’re not as excited about. Like a scar, or a traumatic experience, or a strange parasitic disease. Those are not good thoughts.
In 2009, Panama launched a new campaign featuring the slogan “Panama Surprises” to replace their “It Will Never Leave You” campaign. This campaign represented part of an initiative to increase awareness of Panama’s diverse beauties. The “Panama Surprises” slogan seems to sidestep the kind of ambiguous-meaning issues of the old slogan. Unfortunately, however, Panama is having trouble shaking the “It Will Never Leave You” slogan, according to a report from The Panama Digest. Apparently that tagline will never leave you either.
I personally like “Panama Surprises” a lot more than “It Will Never Leave You.” I think it aptly expresses Panama’s biodiversity, and describes the many unique species travelers have the opportunity to encounter when visiting Panama. But really, the humorous misinterpretations of Panama’s old slogan do fit in with the fun, easygoing vibe that pervades Panama. You can’t really damage the reputation of a whole country with a few ill-chosen words, especially not a country as gorgeous and bursting with indisputable natural merits as Panama.
Originally published May 28, 2010.