SF-based PR Firm Finds Out How Many People From Other English-Speaking Countries Insist on Calling San Francisco by the Wrong Name
SAN FRANCISCO—January 21, 2019—Bospar, the San Francisco-based boutique PR firm that puts tech companies on the map, today released data from its second annual San Francisco Naming Day Survey. This year, the agency took an international view to the problem plaguing San Francisco residents: hearing visitors use the nicknames “Frisco” and “San Fran.”
This is timely: on January 30, 1847, Mayor Washington Allon Bartlett issued a proclamation renaming Yerba Buena to San Francisco, believing it would be good for business to take on the name of the well-known San Francisco Bay. The San Francisco Museum & Historical Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the history of San Francisco, plans to hold a special noon event at its location at the Mechanics Institute Building at 57 Post Street, Suite 614, on January 30 this year to commemorate the day San Francisco got its name.
What the British, Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians Call SF
A majority (71 percent) of people from the U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada say they usually call San Francisco by its proper name — but that leaves 29 percent who don’t.
- Almost a third (30 percent) of Canadians and a more than a quarter (27 percent) of Australians and New Zealanders use the locally-loathed nickname “San Fran”
- 28 percent of Canadians, Australians and New Zealanders call it “Golden Gate City” or “The Golden City”
- People from the U.K. (76 percent) are most likely to call San Francisco by its proper name; just 15 percent use “Golden Gate City,” and 14 percent use “San Fran”
- Least popular nicknames include “Baghdad by the Bay,” “Fog City” and “The City”
Of those who call San Francisco “San Fran” or “Frisco,” the number one reason (84 percent) was that they heard the nickname in popular culture: movies, music, TV, and sports. More than half say they use “San Fran” because it’s shorter than saying the whole name. A minority say they do it because they know it annoys the locals.
In fact, almost a quarter (24 percent) of respondents said they would keep calling San Francisco “San Fran” or “Frisco” even if they knew it drove locals nuts. A full quarter also said they would insist on calling California “Cali” even if they knew it drove Californians nuts.
“It might be difficult for non-San Franciscans to understand why nicknames like ‘San Fran’ and ‘Frisco’ are so grating,” said Charles Fracchia, cofounder of Rolling Stone magazine and president emeritus of the San Francisco Museum & Historical Society. “You wouldn’t meet someone named Richard and call them ‘Dick’ without invitation; calling San Francisco ‘San Fran’ is the same thing. San Franciscans are proud of their city, and calling it by its full name lends the city the dignity it deserves.”
What American Locals and Non-Locals Call SF
How does this compare to how Americans, Californians and San Franciscans refer to San Francisco? Bospar’s 2018 San Francisco Naming Day Survey found that:
- The majority (65 percent) of San Franciscans and people who live in the surrounding Bay Area use “San Francisco” when referring to the city
- 46 percent also call it “The City,” and 37 percent call it “SF”
- 20 percent of residents do admit to sometimes referring to San Francisco as “San Fran,” and 9 percent admit to sometimes calling it “Frisco”
- If forced to choose only one name, 75 percent of residents would go with “San Francisco;” only 1 percent of San Francisco residents would choose “San Fran,” and only 4 percent would choose “Frisco”
The majority of other Americans (67 percent) also prefer to call San Francisco by its proper name, but a much higher percentage also use locally unpopular alternatives, including “San Fran” (28 percent) and “Frisco” (13 percent), as well as some nostalgic nicknames like “Golden Gate City” and “City by the Bay” (15 percent each).
What San Francisco Means to Visitors
Getting back to the Brits, Australians, New Zealanders and Canadians, the 2019 survey also asked respondents what they think of when they think of San Francisco. The top ten answers included:
- The Golden Gate Bridge — 50 percent
- The San Francisco Bay — 41 percent
- The Bay Area — 30 percent
- Alcatraz — 29 percent
- The 49ers — 18 percent
- LGBT community — 16 percent
- Hippy culture — 14 percent
- Pier 39 — 12 percent
- “Full House” — 11 percent
- Golden State Warriors — 11 percent
“We were inspired to do this research when we would call people out on their use of ‘San Fran,’” said Curtis Sparrer, a principal of Bospar. “Often people would apologize, telling us they never knew that ‘San Fran’ and ‘Frisco’ sounded like fingernails on a chalkboard to locals. Our hope is that we can tackle this misunderstanding head on with an educational PR campaign. Much like the PR tactics we would use for our clients, we are hoping this program encourages people to take a page from Beyonce and learn to ‘say my name.’”
“It’s a great opportunity for San Franciscans to showcase their city and show the world why it deserves to be called by its proper name,” said Gabrielle Ayala, Principal of Propeller Insights. “As is often the case, a detached convenience drives the use of these nicknames, with only a small percentage using them with intent to annoy. It’s about nurturing an emotional connection to the city from afar, so that foreigners appreciate San Francisco’s greatness the way locals do.”
The 2019 San Francisco Naming Day Survey was commissioned by Bospar and conducted online by Propeller Insights on January 10-12, 2019. Propeller Insights surveyed more than 1,500 residents of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.
The 2018 San Francisco Naming Day Survey was commissioned by Bospar and conducted online by Propeller Insights on January 18-19, 2018. Propeller Insights surveyed 200 U.S. residents from the San Francisco Bay Area and more than 1,000 non-residents.
January 11, 2019
January 19, 2018
Non-SF completes: http://surveys.propellerinsights.com/r/445431_5a62a76931a649.33562302
January 18, 2018
Non-SF completes: http://surveys.propellerinsights.com/r/445431_5a6059ef547057.30881435
About Propeller Insights
Propeller Insights is a full-service market research firm based in Los Angeles. Using quantitative and qualitative methodologies to measure and analyze marketplace and consumer opinions, they work extensively across industries such as travel, brand intelligence, entertainment/media, retail, and consumer packaged goods.
Bospar is a boutique tech PR firm featuring a team of highly seasoned professionals who exist to put tech companies on the map. Bospar’s principals include a longtime PR and tech industry guru, a former broadcast TV producer and award-winning media maven, a standout PR agency manager from the corporate side of a leading global law firm, and an experienced executive with both large agency and public company credentials. Bospar’s larger team includes experts in both social and traditional media, as well as financial and analyst relations and public affairs.