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Ottawa has abandoned its new city-marketing slogan "Technically Beautiful" after the tag line bombed with residents and business owners in the capital who felt the awkward phrase sounded like a backhanded compliment.

"It made us an object of ridicule," said city councillor Alex Cullen who spearheaded a campaign against the four-month-old moniker.

"If I called my daughter technically beautiful, she'd hit me."

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The Ottawa Tourism and Convention Authority and an economic development group announced yesterday they would "set aside" the tag line in the wake of "adverse public reaction."

The controversial marketing motto had been intended to convey both Ottawa's beauty and its status as a high-tech hotbed. Instead, the slogan drew ridicule from as far away as London and Bangkok as critics said it damned Canada's capital with faint praise.

"Consider . . . how many times people begin sentences with the word 'technically' when they are about to explain why something that works in theory might not work in practice," said an article in The Bangkok Post this spring.

The Ottawa Tourism and Convention Authority and an economic development group announced yesterday they would "set aside" the tag line in the wake of "adverse public reaction."

The slogan had been developed after Ottawa's amalgamation with surrounding municipalities to create one of Canada's largest cities.

But the new pitch never caught on. Instead it drew an unusual amount of ire from what long-time residents say is a normally sedate city. "[That]tells you something. We usually don't say too much," said Duncan MacDonald, a senior partner at the Byward Marketing Group.

Mr. Cullen said regional politicians have been bombarded with alternate slogans.

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"It became a bit of a parlour game throughout Ottawa with people phoning in a ton of different versions. I am still getting e-mail on this."

He said it was time for the city to move on. "Instead of focusing on our wonderful attributes, the conversation kept coming back around to what does this [slogan]mean? What are you trying to tell us?"

A survey of city slogans around North America shows what a difference a few words can make in a marketing pitch. In Tucson for instance, the city used similar words as Ottawa did to hammer home the same theme more effectively with, "Beautifully Connected: Come for the technology, stay for the lifestyle." Marketing tag lines in use in Canada include "The world within a city" for Toronto and "Spectacular by nature" for Vancouver.

Ottawa public relations strategist Peter O'Malley said the tag line appears to have been designed mainly with tech-savvy U.S. investors in mind: a select group that might not have been put off by the too-clever-by-half phrasing.

"It didn't make sense in terms of a tourism marketing pitch. Who is going to go to a town called 'technically beautiful'?"

Mr. Cullen said city promoters should go back to the drawing board to find a replacement slogan.

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