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Saturday, February 01, 2014

The Nearby Republic of Coconut Grove?

There's a new marketing campaign planned for Coconut Grove, they are re-branding the Grove. Again. I have known about the re-branding since December. I was at the BID board meeting on December 19, 2013, where it was introduced, but I was asked by the BID to keep it quiet until they were ready to roll out the new campaign. I left the meeting that day with a couple of the guys from Markham Unlimited who created the campaign. They asked me not to say anything, too. I didn't, and now I am beat by the Herald on the story which sort of irks me. 

As for the re-branding, Markham Unlimited, a local Grove firm came up with the slogan "The Nearby Republic of Coconut Grove." The image and a new old-fashioned logo seen here, (this was taken at the December meeting) will be plastered all over the Grove. A new website will be introduced, a filmed commercial and a big party at Peacock Garden Cafe will launch the new brand.

Many BID board members at the December meeting did not like the slogan or the branding. I do understand the concept though, they want the "nearby" to speak to local municipalities in the county who can experience the uniqueness of the Grove without going far, for instance to the Caribbean islands or even Key West. That makes sense to me. And I know many are against the "Republic" part. They feel that the Grove is being branded from the Village of Coconut Grove to the Republic of Coconut Grove. But this is an ad campaign. This only effects the Center Grove, not the residents and we still are the Village of Coconut Grove according to Manny Gonzalez, BID administrator.

Some BID board members may be upset because a small committee was asked to work on the branding, and not the whole 19 member board. So everyone did not get to vote on it. The consensus is that most would have voted against it.

Sorry it's blurry, it was taken from afar at the hush hush meeting.

The BID members who spoke up at the December meeting felt that Republic reminded them of Key West, the Conch Republic; or the Banana Republic. I didn't feel that. It was a gut reaction for me and I liked what I saw. But I get that it's a campaign and I do like the logo, I can see it on t-shirts, hats and other items. You can take Budweiser and call it "The Republic of Budweiser" in a tv commercial, that doesn't mean Budweiser is an actual republic.

It's not only the BID members who don't like the concept, many residents don't like it, I've been approached by people, who got wind of it and asked why I didn't mention it. I was trying to keep my mouth shut. But like someone said, when did that ever stop me before?

A friend said, "Re-branding an inferior product does not improve its quality or desirability." I feel it's true that new branding is not going to bring people to the Grove, new stores, new businesses, free parking and yes, a trolley service and something for people to do will bring people, not a new logo or commercial. People need things to do once they arrive to this republic, er, I mean village. But to start with a logo, commercial, website and ad campaign can't hurt. It's better than not doing anything. Right?

For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Anonymous Al Crespo said...


This was discussed at a public meeting, by an agency that receives public money and they asked you not to say anything and now you're upset that the worthless Miami Herald scooped you?

I will join the folks that not only think this is a dumb idea, but if there is going to be any name change, the name of Coconut Grove should be changed to Sarnoffville.

Now that Sarnoff has started telling folks that he intends to run for County Commissioner and the lovely Teresa is going to be put forth as the candidate for City Commissioner to continue to carry forward the Sarnoff legacy, then Sarnoffville is the only name that reflects the true status of Coconut Grove today.

February 01, 2014 6:09 AM  
Anonymous James W. said...

I think the logo looks cool. I'd buy a t-shirt with it in a heartbeat.

February 01, 2014 7:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love it! Captures the spirit and the uniqueness of Coconut Grove as a special entity all its own. If I were a tourist, I go "there" in a heartbeat just because of the logo. It will be a winner.

February 01, 2014 9:04 AM  
Blogger Brian Breslin said...

I'm torn on this. On one hand I think the grove needs marketing desperately. On the other hand this strikes me as convoluted. I would prefer a campaign like "pure coconut grove" or something simple where we show off the people sailing or dining out, this doesn't strike me as conveying any clear message.
I hate to say it, but it is also like putting lipstick on a pig. So many places are run down or closed that it begs the question what exactly are we promoting these days?

February 01, 2014 9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a musician this reminds me of when I was younger an would get together with other beginning musicians to play. There were always those whose first concern was the name of the band.

No concern over how to play their instrument or even getting a couple songs under their belt. The important thing to them was the name not the content.

Putting lipstick on a pig doesn't make it not a pig. This is just another version of those people who moved their business to the Grove with no thought to the actual business model but believing that the 33133 area code would mean their venture would be a success.
Just another way to treat the symptoms but not the disease.

The Grove of the 60's, 70's, 80's and early 90's wasn't a great place to live and play because of branding or marketing. It was what it was because of the people and the businesses that catered to them.

February 01, 2014 9:55 AM  
Anonymous swlip said...

It's rather silly.

February 01, 2014 10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The logo isn't bad and the name "Republic of Coconut Grove" could be worse but using the word NEARBY seems extremely awkward.

Filling all the empty storefronts with viable businesses will make the Grove more attractive. Now it looks run-down and past its prime.

February 01, 2014 10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mirriam Webster defines a Republic as: a government in which supreme power resides in a body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by elected officers and representatives responsible to them and governing according to law.

Considering that when the majority of the Grove residents themselves did not want the future Regatta Park so much that the local government took the vote city-wide AND misrepresented it to the public, I think Republic is a hell of a misnomer.

This was approved in a secret meeting and you were specifically asked to keep it to yourself until, well, until you were scooped by the Herald so the idea could be spun in a positive light by the Herald before the locals could raise any objections or opinions. Does that feel like a representative republic to you?

Republic? Not so much.

How about the Banana Republic of Sarnoff's investors, Miami Parking Authority and Tourist trap Entrepenuers?

February 01, 2014 10:18 AM  
Blogger Headly Westerfield said...

It begs the question: Who do you work for, Tom?

Is your goal to inform your readers or to play patty-cake with the BID?

February 01, 2014 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meh, it is something new for sure. The real Coconut Grove is embodied in the following slogan: "A drinking village with a fishing problem" which the Grove republican wants to change. Sarnoff must have squealed and clapped when he heard the new slogan

February 01, 2014 11:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sarnoffville? Thankfully politician Sarnoff is termed out and he can take his massive City pension and go away. By the way, he contributed not one cent for the massive City pension. But he is sure leaving unsolved problems.

February 01, 2014 11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see the BID get so up in arms about this, as well as "concerned citizens." After all, it's not like that energy could be used to stop the McMansions from tearing down the heart and soul of the Grove, or having Sarnoff go off on his own and give away a public park to a private church, or have no vision for keeping the Grove as anything but certain people's retirement village, or tearing down put in a chain restaurant and a ceviche place to compete with the popular ceviche place already in the Grove.

This is a solid branding effort. It is the LEAST of the problems facing the Grove. The Grove is dying because of who is leading it. This place was once the heart of Miami, it's now an afterthought.

February 01, 2014 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel bad for the tourists when I see them in the area as it's not very exciting plus all the empty storefronts make it look like a ghost town. Instead of blowing cash on a new slogan or website, why not fix the empty storefront problem and bring some life into the area?

February 01, 2014 1:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand their desperation but actions and not words are needed. ie: tearing down Scotty's to put up a modern restaurant is the wrong direction IMO

February 01, 2014 1:53 PM  
Blogger Emilio said...

I'm not too keen on it. The words "nearby" and "Republic" don't sound well together to my ear.

February 01, 2014 4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess it's a start. Improvement opportunities abound. First of all, the "Coconut Grove Est. 1873" logo treatment is not bad. Keep it. However, the words "The Nearby Republic" are meaningless. Nearby what? And "Republic?" Please. Tired and used. As is "Get Your 'Fill in the Blank' On."

Try a few new taglines, like "Village Lifestyle in the Big City" or "Miami's Most Charming Village" or "Small-town Charm on Biscayne Bay."

Don't put the emphasis on being a renegade. The 60s are long gone. Today, what's great about the Grove is its small scale, its village feeling, its natural waterfront beauty. That's what should be marketed. Make the branding company sharpen its pencils.

February 01, 2014 5:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's genius! Great looking logo. Good design. I'd happily buy a t-shirt. And if it vaguely recalls Key West, so much the better. The cottage-y, jungle-y side of the Grove is a little like Key West.

Thanks for keeping us informed!
Laura A.

February 01, 2014 6:15 PM  
Blogger Grant Sheehan said...

First how can a small group of people change the name of one of the oldest communities in the state without a public hearing or at least a public meeting? This is all about the BID (most of who don’t live in the Grove and just come and go) and not the residents who have called the Grove home for many years.
This sounds more like something Sarnoff came up so can be the “Supreme Ruler”
Ever since the city annexed the Grove they have had no respect for it. We have always been a step child and even more so now that Brickell has taken off.
The grove if filthy! The sidewalks have never been cleaned the buildings need to be painted and when is the last time you saw a street sweeper in the Grove. Traffic and parking are ridiculous! Throw off street parking out of the Grove and give us 2 hours of free parking to shop and eat! Oh and how about a lunch menu less than 35-40 dollars.
You can re-brand it any way you want but business will be the same until you clean it up and offer parking and pricing that will attract someone and then I am not sure that will even save it!

February 01, 2014 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a resident that almost opened a business in coconut grove but couldn't convince my business partner. (We chose downtown instead for several appealing reasons. Sorry but true.) I looks like the BID is just trying a fresh approach to showcase our little village as a special unique place. The "nearby republic" for ME sounds like an exclusive place to escape to. (Which now that I think of it is why I live here). I think people take this too seriously. Unless we come together and embrace a campaign, concept, or "nearby republic," as a community, we will continue to see the tumbleweeds. A. B.

February 01, 2014 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The slogan does not vaguely remind one of key west. - It is a slap-in-the-face rip-off of the key west conch republic. The reality is if you want to compare the two locations, we are a poor man's key west, and this stupid name is just one more reminder of that. Can't we come up with our own name? What is wrong with "village"? Let's not use hyperbole - we are little more than a village, if a village at all. Ever since we killed our own local economy by rolling back the hours of alcohol sales we have been a ghost town in comparison to what we once were. NO name change will change that. If you want people to visit, you have to have actual attractions, not just stolen slogans.

February 01, 2014 11:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the biggest problems facing businesses in the Grove is the excessive rents. Grove landlords charge outlandishly outsize rents. Who can survive? It is no surprise the Grove has constant turnover and so many vacant storefronts. Why doesn't the BID and el jefe Sarnoff work on that problem?

February 02, 2014 12:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bring back the clubs.then advertise the fun is back in the how people will flock to come back to the grove.or even something like the old grove is back.

February 02, 2014 5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Came to the North Grove in 1974 and never left. Lived the whole experience, from the sailboat to the band. Raised my family here; sent the kid to school here; built my practice here. My daughter lives in Center Grove. My neighbors are my friends. I know what made the Grove.

We don't need a silly, second-hand name. We need to focus on what made the Grove magical. Bring back the music and the dance clubs; let them stay open until whenever. Bring back the Playhouse and some version of the EZ-Rip as we knew it. Understand the reality of what the market will bear when you set commercial rents; give small businesses a chance to get started and build a following. Loosen up on liquor licenses.

February 03, 2014 1:06 AM  
Anonymous Dexter said...

I've lived in the Grove for almost 20 years. The greatest decline in number of visitors, occurred just after the 5am bar opening was stopped.

The younger crowd that were spending money, turned to other areas to spend their money, like South Miami and Brickell.

This also appeared to have a knock-on effect with bars and restaurants closing.

Changing the name of Coconut Grove is just a cheap, tacky and vain attempt to fix a much deeper issue.

February 03, 2014 7:57 AM  
Anonymous AM said...

Who is the "target market" with this name change?

If you're looking to attract fellow Miami'ians, "locals", a new name isn't going to do carry much weight. I don't go to Brickell because of its name. I go to Brickell because there are places I want to go to, IN Brickell. Maybe Brickell has a slogan, I don't know, and I don't really care.
The Grove should focus on getting some trendy stores and offer tax incentives for new businesses. A Shake Shak would bring in people. So would a Segafredo or Balans.
Take one step back, to take two steps forward.

If you are looking to attract tourists, then the new logo and branding is fine.
However, I think a tourist from France, Spain, etc, would be A LOT more interested in the "historic nature" of the Grove. There really isn't much "historic" stuff to do in Miami, and tourists like to do historical stuff. Think about your last trip? what did you do on your vacation?

We are full of creative types in the Grove. I say we open this up to a local competition. Grove Residents ONLY. Winner gets free drinks at the G-Spot or Greenstreets for a night.

February 03, 2014 10:37 AM  
Blogger Brian Breslin said...

I think its the word nearby that strikes me as awkward. most young people skip the grove because they think its tired and run down.

Interestingly, neither flanigans or berry's, two super popular grove establishments, are included in any of this marketing (maybe because they fall outside the central business district?)

February 03, 2014 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nearby all the hustle and bustle of Brickell, Downtown and the Gables is this wonderful peaceful place where you can relax and be yourself. This is just a logo, there is a lot more to the whole campaign. The idea is to reintroduce the Grove as maybe the best kept secret in Miami. Sailing, boating, dining, shopping, the arts, unique events, historical locations, parks and recreation, etc…. No other area has what the Grove has and the idea is to create new interest and bring people back.

February 03, 2014 11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have the perfect slogan..."The city that killed fun"

February 03, 2014 4:09 PM  
Anonymous That Guy said...

This is good as a slogan and marketing campaign, but those don't change things. hey, what was Wynwood's slogan and campaign? OH, that's right, there isn't one, it just popped up, happened, and so much more popular than the grove regardless of the dicey location, and the fact that it was built on unwanted, cheap property with no view or water.

The problem with the grove is that it priced itself out. NO one will open a new or fun business here. Lokal is the only survivor of the last decade - bravo to them, but sad for the grove. So much potential, no leadership.

February 03, 2014 4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rebranding, get real, kick the carpet baggers butts out of the Grove, no funds, no funding, no nothing. Some people, so called sophisticate's, who make a profit as they claim a loss are losers and profit from nothingness. Look in their eyes and when you converse with them they will look down and to the left - - - - they are liars & will remove your underwear as your thinking u-are going to get laid.

February 03, 2014 9:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I second: "The city that killed fun"

February 04, 2014 5:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Grovites nightmare! Coconut Grove is transformed to an Abercrombie-type cartoon... at least AF knows who they are marketing to!

As a fun-era 60s-70s-80s vet, I'd a preferred just calling it The Grove - since that's what everyone calls it anyway... might even be better because so many do not want to come to Coconut Grove. Why? Parking is difficult & outrageous, a few good restaurants (nothing great) that are over priced with bad service, no live music (now once a month, whoopee!), rents to high for quality businesses that know how to run a business + the BID-inflicted parking surcharges, fees to high to encourage events in Peacock Park, toxic parks, crime, and the, of course, nothing to do after you eat and maybe shop! Barnacle, okay...nice to visit...then what?

The Grove is about the people who live here... the Grovites & the 'Bourgei'...saying hi when you meet, asking how you're doing, the family, work, getting together for dinner or cocktails... but the BID was not devised for that... it is to build up business in center Grove (and no, that does not include Berries, Flanigans, Monty's etc.)... and the emphasis is obviously on tourist dollars,,, screw the locals.. we don't shop Abercrombie...

Shoulda looked at the Gables... that's a real city - not a republic (do not like this Nearby Republic AT ALL!) - they got it going on... things to do... you can walk, shop, dine at fine to family restaurants, see museums, it's clean, and you can hop the trolley to help in doing all this.

It's the new Abercrombie Grove (BTW where Abercrombie will NEVER set up shop)... better get used to it... As Sarnoff 'visions', so it's done.

And I agree with everyone who has said it's not a logo that will attract people here... it's people, businesses, history, and things to do.. the outrageous amount spent on this campaign could have been used to clean up, upgrade, support loyal merchants, and beautify the existing Grove. Maybe we need a Nearby Revolution... hopefully, it's not too late... Long live The Grove!

February 04, 2014 11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are several lunch menus that are less than $35 dollars. Try less than $20. Get it together before you start going on a rant.

February 07, 2014 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You couldn't have said it any better. I am a part of the group that stopped coming to the Grove after they started that new law. Now, places like Midtown, Wynwood, Brickell and Miami Beach are my areas of choice and many of my peers as well.

February 07, 2014 4:12 PM  

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