According to a Channel 4 News report, the city has spent more than $312,000 dollars on Mayor Tim Keller’s “One Albuquerque” campaign and re branding the city as BURQUE since he took office on December 1, 2017.
Many city departments, including the police and fire departments, have been buying “One Albuquerque” merchandise with the new logo. The purchases have included small items such as pens, T Shirts, chapstick, swimsuits, 604 draw string bags, 4,700 tote bags.
The City spent over $53,000 on the “One Albuquerque Logo” letter sculpture placed in Civic Plaza that rearranges the letters in the city’s name to reflect the slang name “BURQUE”. The sculpture was strongly criticized by the blind community as not complying with “Americans With Disabilities” (ADA) federal law. The city has since moved the sculpture and has added large planters around part of it to restrict access to it to avoid injuries and people stumbling over it. It has been reported the sculpture will be move to major city events at the cost of $5,000 each time it is moved.
Carlos Contreras, the Director of Marketing and Innovation for Albuquerque, said that the $312,000 price tag is trivial when it’s spread out across departments by saying:
“There are near two dozen departments here at the city so when you look at a 300 hundred-thousand-dollar price tag, the way that’s chopped up across departments would be, you know, do the math it’d be incremental. [The re-branding campaign increases tourism and promotes inclusive atmosphere.] That’s the biggest aim for One Albuquerque, [it is] saying, ‘Look, community, we’re here. … Here are some issues that we’re all confronting. Here are some ways you can get engaged and involved and if you have an idea please bring that to the table too.”
The full Channel 4 report can be viewed here:
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
In 2012, KOAT-TV and KRQE News 13 reported that New Mexico prison officials stated that “The Burquenos” was the most dominant prison gang behind bars threatening to spill over into the community. The “Burquenos”, also known as “Burque Boys” began when members of different Albuquerque street gangs banded together behind bars. According to prison officials, the Burquenos or Burque Boys get tattoos of Albuquerque’s skyline, the old Albuquerque Dukes baseball team logo, the Zia sun symbol and even the University of New Mexico’s Lobo logo. According to law enforcement, the Lobo paw print is suppose to reflect a felonious act or assault.
As recently as April 10, 2019, the noun “Burqueno” was defined by the “Urban Dictionary” as follows:
“A member of a loosely organized clique or gang in New Mexico prisons known as the Burquenos. Requisites for membership in the group include:
1) former residence in, or another connection to, the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico and
2) willingness to support the group’s interests above those of all others especially during violent confrontations.
Gang iconography includes tattoos of a wolf paw-print when refers to the mascot and team-name of the University of New Mexico, the Lobo. The tattoo is most commonly placed on the members neck. The group was formed during the 1990’s as a way to offer members protection from the dominant prison gang of the time …. “
2018 CITY QUALITY OF LIFE SURVEY
Every year, the City of Albuquerque does a Quality of Life Survey. Last year was the first time the survey asked residents their “overall feelings about the term BURQUE to describe the city of Albuquerque.” The results found city residents evenly divided as follows:
28% have an unfavorable opinion.
28% have a favorable opinion.
35% felt neutral about using it.
9% stated they did not know or would not say how they felt.
According to the survey, the nickname for Albuqerqueans is less favorable in the northeast heights where the demographic is more Anglo and more favorable amongst people who live in the UNM area, the North Valley, downtown and the west side.
For a full Channel 4 Report see:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Nicknames for major United States cities are extremely common. City nicknames are intended to convey a positive image and message about a city and used in tourism and economic development promotions for a community. City nicknames often convey a message of pride and how a city and its people view their city. Usually, a nickname for a city is a source of pride and brings to mind an exact city without even mentioning the city’s name at all such as “The Big Apple”, “City of Angels”, “The Windy City”, “The Big Easy”, “The City Different”.
Albuquerque’s nickname of “Duke City” has historical origins. The city was founded in 1706 as a small Spanish settlement on the banks of the Rio Grande. The city has a round, silver logo or “great seal” with a coat of arms image, flags and the city’s founding year 1706 emblazoned on it. Albuquerque was named for the Duke of Alburquerque hence Albuquerque’s nickname, “The Duke City”. The City’s mascot symbol is a “cartoon figure head” with a mustache and bearded man wearing a Spanish armor helmet.
Since being elected in November 2017, Mayor Tim Keller has implemented a public relations and marketing campaign to re brand the city image with his “One ABQ” initiatives and with his new logo and a new nickname. Keller and his marketing director Carlos Contreras has come up with a strained logo that rearranges the letters in the city’s name to reflect the slang name “BURQUE” in red letters with t-shirts and created a web page with slick videos promoting the city. “BURQUE”, pronounced “buurrrrkaaay” by many, including our Mayor at public events, is the slang name for the city used by many locals with great pride to express a certain attitude about themselves and the city.
It’s laughable when Carlos Contreras, the Director of Marketing and Innovation for Albuquerque, says the re-branding promotes an inclusive atmosphere to address issues that we’re all confronting. Mayor Keller and Carlos Contreras either totally ignore or do not really care that “BURQUE” promotes “tribalism”. To both, it probably is no big deal to their age group. To the 55+ age group who put Keller into office, it is a big deal. Burque is cringe worthy to many long time residents, natives and many in law enforcement and to many who do not use it in their everyday conversations. To many “BURQUE” is the city’s nickname used by gang members to promote tribalism, reflects street roughness and slang talk not appropriate to be used in city promotions for tourism, investment and economic development.
If city residents are so divided on the use of BURQUE as reflected in the city’s quality of life survey, using it to promote the city is a mistake, is divisive and not at all inclusive.
NOT THE FIRST TIME A MAYOR DECIDES TO “RE BRAND” CITY
The attempt to re brand and change the promotional name of “Duke City” to “BURQUE” is no doubt considered a smart political promotional advertising move by Mayor Tim Keller and his Director of Marketing. What the media has ignored is that Mayor Tim Keller and his handlers has the city using his 2017 Mayoral campaign logo with his name and the outline of the city backdrop in a circle with his “rust brown” color scheme backdrops on city literature and most city promotions. Keller’s campaign logo replaces the city’s official seal at his press conferences.
The attempts by Mayor Keller to re brand the city image with his own campaign logo and colors scheme should sound very familiar. It was done twice before by Mayor Martin Chavez. City construction billboards used Mayor Chavez’s mayoral campaign re election city photos with purple color hues as a backdrop.
Mayor Martin Chavez first came up with a new city logo that looked like a swimmer whose arms were breaking the water’s surface and the trite slogan “Good for You, Albuquerque!”, with both resulting in public ridicule. Chavez again attempted to re brand the city as “The Q” with the use of bold and distinct stylized font for “Q” in a light blue. The Keller Administration’s purchase of “swag” promotional items to give away such as pens, t- shirts, swimsuits, draw string bags, tote bags and coffee cups is also taken right out of Mayor Chavez’s playbook who also made sure he had his name on everything that had the logo on it.
With Keller’s’ emphasis on “volunteerism”, you would have thought he would have explored people’s opinions on what the city should be referred to in promotional materials and logos. It has never been disclosed as to how and why it was decided to use “burque” nor what the private business sector thinks of its appropriateness to promote the city. It’s Keller’s right as Mayor to change the city’s promotional name and branding for the good of promoting all of Albuquerque. But that does not mean he has the right to try and change a city’s entire identity to reflect the Mayor’s own personal image, campaign logo and self-promotion.
Keller should set aside his self-promotion, campaign colors and logo and place a far greater emphasis on historical Route 66, Duke City or the city’s historical roots for city promotional purposes. Attempting to use a slang name that promotes “tribalism” and which to many is cringe worthy is a mistake. We will not be “One Albuquerque” until tribalism is set aside and a nickname is found that is all inclusive.
The Burque sculpture could just as easily been a “One ABQ” sculpture. The slogan “We’re In It Together” would have also been nice.