After years of bearing the unofficial moniker “Berkeley of the East”, the city of Takoma Park this week launched a strategic campaign to improve its national brand and seize the progressive crown from its Californian counterpart.
“We’re leaders, not followers,” said Nate Johnson, who will manage the new branding campaign for Takoma Park. “Berkeley might be bigger and better known, but it can’t match Takoma Park for its tradition of liberal activism, welcoming community and tolerance. Anyone who says otherwise can go straight to hell.”
The first part of the plan, according to Johnson, is the creation of a new Department of Branding to generate content—articles, blog posts, Tik Tok videos, etc.—touting the superiority of Takoma Park while questioning the validity of Berkeley’s own progressive credentials. Newly produced materials include titles such as “Where is YOUR Clocktopus? The Tragic Absence Of Crotcheted Public Art in Berkeley” and “Pumpkin Spiced Corporatism: Starbucks Franchises Dominate Berkeley Coffee Market”.
The second part of the plan involves an effort to scrub undesirable references to Takoma Park from the internet by editing relevant Wikipedia articles and reporting defamatory tweets and other social media posts comparing the city to Berkeley in an unflattering manner. Listserv trolls have been retained by the city to manufacture and promote laudatory blog posts and articles that can be promoted with the goal of bumping unfavorable coverage onto the barren wasteland of page two of Google search results.
Most city residents seem supportive of the plan as outlined. “I’ve got relatives in Berkeley,” said Natasha Beck, “and I’m tired of them bragging about their subsidized medical marijuana and their Unicycle Juggling Festival. We are just as progressive and hold just as many obscure cultural events as they do with only a fifth of their population. Remember Pajama-rama? Who’s better now?!”
Even outside of the city, the program is garnering notice. Johnson reports that he’s been contacted by city officials in Madison, Wisconsin (“Berkeley of the Midwest”) and Austin, Texas (“Berkeley of the South”) about how to initiate similar efforts in their communities.
So far, reaction from Berkeley itself has been limited. Reached for comment at the ribbon cutting of the Berkeley Psychedelics Dispensary this morning, their City Manager said, “Takoma Park? Aren’t they the ones fighting to the death over preserving a parking lot and complaining about rising property taxes? I think our progressive crown is safe.”