Colorado Tourism's "Come to Life" Challenge Comes to a Close

"Escape the Expected." That's one of the new slogans of Atlantis Paradise Island, which faced an unexpected challenge from the State of Colorado this spring when the Bahamas resort introduced a much-ballyhooed marketing campaign based on the slogan "Come to Life."

Which happens to be the slogan of an award-winning campaign that Colorado introduced in 2012 and has been using in one form or another ever since.

That's why a late-night TV ad urging viewers to "Come to Life" not in Colorado, but at a Bahamas resort in which Donald Trump once owned a majority stake, put me on full alert. The new Atlantis campaign had already gotten some attention in tourism trade publications — it was part of a marketing partnership between the resort and the Bahamas — but had not yet come to the attention of Colorado.

Since I'd frequently pointed out the silliness of earlier state tourism efforts, it only seemed fair to now let Colorado officials know that their prize campaign had been pilfered. And in June, Cathy Ritter, head of the Colorado Tourism Office, sent a letter to Atlantis, notifying them of what the state considered a definite trademark violation. “I thought you would want to be aware that we at the Colorado Tourism Office have spent many tens of millions of dollars over the past five years to engrain our ‘Come to Life’ messaging in the minds, hearts and spirits of vacation travelers," she wrote.

Atlantis's attorneys were not moved. “We have reviewed this both internally and with our counsel, and we are confident that Atlantis Paradise Island’s new ‘Come to Life’ campaign does not infringe upon the campaign by the Colorado Tourism Office, nor do we think it would create any likelihood of confusion for potential visitors to our respective designations," they advised Ritter in their June 16 response.

Ritter disagreed, and at that point, Colorado's legal team really came to life.

And on Friday, September 8, Ritter sent me this note: "The discussion with Atlantis was amicably resolved today. We are very satisfied with the result. Unfortunately, I can't say anything further due to the confidentiality of the agreement."

She may not be able to say anything, but the website is no longer accessible without a password. (The "Come to Life" slogan is still captured in YouTube videos, including the one above, however.)

New ads on the web touting Atlantis are using lines like "FORWARD. OUTWARD. SUNWARD." as well as "Escape the Expected."

Which happens to be the title of Tom Trush's recent marketing book, Escape the Expected: The Secret Psychology of Selling to Today's Skeptical Consumers.

And when it comes to booking vacations, those consumers should be skeptical indeed.
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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun