What does it mean if a place loves you back? That was the question posed by the Greater Philadelphia Tourism Marketing Corporation (GPTMC) when it chose the slogan “The Place That Loves You Back” to promote the Philadelphia region as a tourist destination in its 1997 advertising campaign. This was of course not the city’s first attempt to sell itself as a tourist destination, but it marked a departure from previous attempts that mostly focused on Philadelphia’s ample stock of historically significant artifacts in Center City (“America’s most historic square mile”) such as Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, none of which could be said to necessarily “love you back.”
The odd claim that something as abstract as a place loves you grabs your attention, sticks in your head, and thus makes for a successful slogan. It also provided a reply and a challenge to the “I Love New York” slogan – and indeed, a large portion of the print ads that used the “Place that Loves You Back” showed up in New York magazine. The slogan was also meant to conjure up Philadelphia’s heritage as the “City of Brotherly Love,” infused with the Quaker values of universal love, nonviolence, tolerance, and equality.