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Why is "the North" suddenly so hot? Minneapolis rebrands with a familiar message

Minneapolis is marketing itself as the "Bold North" ahead of the 2018 Super Bowl. The overlap is just a coincidence, though, says tourism spokesperson.

A “North” hat from Minnesota company Askov Finlayson.

Courtesy Askov Finlayson

A “North” hat from Minnesota company Askov Finlayson.

We the North. They “the Bold North.”

Toronto could get pulled into a branding battle over the marketing for the upcoming 2018 Super Bowl in Minneapolis. Tourism officials are encouraging people to take part in outdoor events around Super Bowl LII, including an urban cross-country ski festival.

Minnesota has been leaning into its cold weather and working to rebrand itself beyond Fargo stereotypes for years.

"North" toques that wouldn’t look out of place in Toronto have been available as Minnesota swag since 2013. Meanwhile, the Toronto Raptors' “We the North” branding, which has appeared on everything from hats to hashtags, even makes a cameo in the city’s 2017 tourism video.

But the overlap is just a coincidence, according to Minneapolis tourism spokesperson Kathy McCarthy.

“Great minds think alike, right?!” McCarthy wrote in an email to Metro, explaining that “Bold North” shows the people of Minneapolis and Minnesota embrace winter.

“Most of the U.S. says, 'Minnesota – it’s cold there,' and it’s negative. We are blessed to have four seasons and do not let snow or cold hinder us from getting out, having fun, being active, engaged and outdoors."

David Soberman, professor of marketing at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, said there’s room for both campaigns because they’re in distinct markets and have unique goals. Minnesota’s campaign is intended to attract Americans to move to the state and boost its GDP, rather than get people excited about basketball.

"It's a good move for them,” Soberman said, adding that marketing the cold sets the state apart form other U.S. locations.

Asked about Minnesota’s campaign, Toronto Mayor John Tory responded in an email: “We the North and everybody knows it."

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