boardwalk memorial day 2009
The Atlantic City Boardwalk is a popular destination for visitors. Here, crowds roam the boards during Memorial Day weekend 2009.

ATLANTIC CITY - The city that's always turned on? It's now "the world's famous playground" to you.

Local elected officials voted unanimously Wednesday to change Atlantic City's slogan back to what it had been for more than 100 years before it was changed eight years ago.

Councilman Marty Small acknowledged the decision was made without consulting groups that typically handle marketing the resort but do not normally send representatives to City Council meetings.

Those agencies include the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, which launched "Always Turned On" in 2004 after doing research and running focus groups for a year, said Jeff Vasser, the agency's executive director.

"We also tested ‘America's Playground' and it didn't test well. It didn't test well at all. ‘Always Turned On' resonated. It accurately described Atlantic City at the time, and it motivated people to come. Atlantic City of 2012 is different than Atlantic City of 2003 - and in conjunction with the (Atlantic City) Alliance, we are going through that research right now, and the Alliance is choosing an agency to lead that effort," said Vasser, who was reached by phone.

The ACCVA handled promoting the city exclusively until the Atlantic City Alliance was created to be the marketing arm of the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority by the same laws that established and put the CRDA in charge of the Atlantic City Tourism District.

ACA President Liza Cartmell could not be reached late Wednesday, but told The Press of Atlantic City last week that the private nonprofit was working on a new slogan for the resort.

Vasser declined further comment pending viewing the resolution and related information.

The resolution cites the city being known as "the world's famous playground" since 1884 "in recognition of its unique location on the Atlantic coast as well as its rich natural amenities" and the "international notoriety as an entertainment mecca" the resort has gained since its founding in 1854.

Councilman George Tibbitt led the initiative.

“Our research is the people who have been here,” Tibbitt said. “A guest doesn’t come to your house and name your child. This is our town, and this is what we the people like.”

Tibbitt said he’s heard over the years from many people who disliked the “Always Turned On” slogan because they “felt it to be sexual in nature.”

“Playground pretty much covers everything,” Tibbitt said. “The determination is almost in the mind of the person who’s hearing or reading it. It could mean a thousand different things.”

The switch to “Always Turned On” happened nearly a decade ago. Tibbitt said HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” series has increased interest in — and the value of — marketing the resort’s history along with newer offerings. Generations of tourists and residents also knew the resort as the “world’s famous playground”.

“It’s a part of Atlantic City’s heritage,” he said. “The new slogan, it just never fit and never worked.”.

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