Friday, April 25, 2003

South Oakland Residents Compose Regional Brand Statement

Armed with a case of beer, an extra-large order of O-fries and a thesaurus, three South Oaklanders gathered in a small Atwood Street apartment to formulate a regional branding statement.

Twenty-four hours later, they emerged to unveil a proclamation that, they believe, captures the very essence of South Oakland:

Just as the keg from which it pumps its beer, South Oakland has a redeemable value and durability that provides a good, strong buzz, yielding new opportunities to get drunk and screw. The amalgamation of cheap booze, potent weed, and loose morals draws college students and other social degenerates together to a place where ideas are invented and then destroyed by substance abuse.

The ad hoc team formulated the 63-word statement from a list of core attributes that differentiate South Oakland from other communities. Doug Pollack, a Pitt sophomore and organizer of the branding group, believes that South Oakland’s versatility is the key to its mystique.

“This neighborhood is just an orgy of cultures,” Pollack said. “You’ve got your rich, college kids mixed in with the bottom-feeders of society, plus some elderly people thrown in to give it an old school feel. South Oakland is basically just an urban ghetto with suburban appeal.”

Pollack was inspired to take on this daunting task after a group of marketing experts named The Image Gap Committee released a similar statement representing Pittsburgh as a whole.

“We didn't feel that the Pittsburgh brand reflected our South Oakland values,” Pollack said. “So we took their general idea and substituted ‘beer’ and ‘screw’ for words like ‘authenticity’ and ‘succeed.’ We did, however, leave in ‘amalgamation,’ because it sounded cool.”

While the Image Gap was given a $200,000 grant to come up with their brand, Pollack had just over $9 to work with.

“Half of the money was spent on beer,” Pollack said, “but that is just a testament to South Oakland’s greatness. I mean where else can you get a case of beer for under nine bucks?”

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