Billboards lose the word 'wild' because of slogan dispute

The word 'wild' disappeared this week from 30 Portland-area billboards advertising Oregon Dungeness crab.

Workers painted over the word after leaders of the state's Brand Oregon marketing campaign backed away from a conflict with the Oregon Natural Resources Council.

'Oregon Wild' was one of three slogans Brand Oregon settled on to tout state products ranging from farm products to wine and seafood. The others are 'Oregon Born' and 'Oregon Raised.'

But the resources council, which filed to trademark 'Oregon Wild' in May 2004 and has used the term in its campaign to promote more forest wilderness since 1998, objected to Brand Oregon's use of the phrase. After several months of discussion that failed to reach common ground, the state opted out.

'We understand that Oregon Dungeness will no longer be wild, as of Thursday afternoon,' said Nick Furman, executive director of the Oregon Crab Commission, which put up $15,000 to help fund the billboards. Clear Channel Communications, which owns the billboards, added an in-kind donation.

Painting out 'wild' was expected to cost about $1,200.

There was some talk of changing the billboards to include the phrase 'free range,' he joked, 'but we were afraid, after this issue with ONRC, that we'd have the chicken industry on us. É We didn't want to go from one battle to another.'

Designed by the Portland ad firm Wieden & Kennedy, the billboards feature a crab claw in one corner, the phrase 'Oregon Wild Dungeness Crab,' and one of three messages: 'Easy as boiling water,' 'Invite them to dinner for the holidays' and 'Leave the guts at the grocers.'

On Dec. 30, Brand Oregon released a statement saying the state had decided to stop using 'Oregon Wild' to promote Oregon seafood, and asking grocers, restaurants and others to immediately dispose of 'all materials,' from banners to stickers to recipe cards, with logos that included the phrase 'Oregon Wild,' linked with salmon, shrimp, albacore, Dungeness crab or sole.

'Please understand the state is not suggesting that retailers stop using either the word 'Oregon' or the word 'Wild' in connection with seafood,' the state's directive added. 'To the extent those terms accurately describe your products or are required by state or federal labeling laws, they should be able to continue using them for those purposes.'

Furman said the Brand Oregon board, which he is a member of, decided to end the dispute with ONRC because 'we could stay stuck in the mud on this particular issue or drive around it and keep moving the program forward.'

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