Will Americans Ever Stop Saying “San Fran” Instead of San Francisco?

Will Americans Ever Stop Saying “San Fran” Instead of San Francisco?

SAN FRANCISCO – Jan. 28, 2022 – Bospar, the “Politely Pushy®” PR firm that puts tech companies on the map, today announced results from its fourth annual San Francisco Naming Day survey, to commemorate the naming of the city on January 30, 1847

Along with covering Americans’ opinions and attitudes around the use of “San Fran” to describe the city of San Francisco, the poll also explored consumer attitudes about the expression of political opinions by airlines, while also providing some key insights into the public’s acceptance of bullying.

Surveying nearly 1,000 people in January of 2022, Bospar’s proprietary research revealed that more than half (56.5%) of Americans use the term “San Fran” to describe San Francisco, a slight decline from from last year, when 59.5% admitted to using it.

This year’s data found that 28.4% of respondents understood that San Franciscans hate the “San Fran” moniker, with 71.6% reporting being unaware of this Bay Area sensitivity. After being educated that San Franciscans do in fact hate “San Fran,” more than three-quarters (73.6%) report they will stop using it.

One can hope.

According to San Francisco resident and Bospar principal Curtis Sparrer, “It really surprises me that a majority of people continue to say ‘San Fran,’ even though we locals loathe that expression. We remain hopeful that when educated as to how citizens of San Francisco feel about the term, most people will call our fair city by its proper and respectful name. Although there is only a slight decline in the use of ‘San Fran,’ we aren’t giving up. Change is often slow-going, but these survey results illuminate the potential and power of communications, as well as the potential to change hearts and minds as PR practitioners, even when it’s something as simple as pointing out the use of our city’s proper name.”

When asked why they plan to continue using the expression “San Fran” – even if the locals hate it – 31.9% said “it doesn’t matter anyway.” Slightly over a quarter (25.5%) said that they “like that locals hate it,” 24 % reported “hearing ‘San Fran’ on conservative news programming,” and 18.6% said they preferred “San Fran” because they “think it’s shorter.”

Flying the “San Fran” Skies – and Keep Politics off the Plane

When it comes to air travel, San Francisco has always been a popular business and tourist destination. And these days, commercial air carriers seem to be guilty of using the term “San Fran”  regularly. According to the survey results, major airlines that use “San Fran” the most include American Airlines (11%), Southwest (6.4%), United (5.6%), and Delta (4.9%).

It also appears that politics have crept into our airborne conversations. Some 17.9% of those surveyed report having heard a pilot or flight attendant say “Let’s go Brandon!” while on a flight. When asked “what they fear when hearing politically charged discourse by flight attendants,” 41.9% of respondents say they have “never heard discourse like this,” and 27.6% say “they fear nothing,” while 11.6% report feeling “that the airline has a political point of view.” In addition, 12.1% think that “the airline employee could be part of a political plot,” and a surprising 6.8% fear that “hijacking” could be in their immediate future.

Sparrer expressed some shock and concern around these figures. “When nearly 7% of people think about hijacking when politics comes up onboard an airplane, it surely means that we’re living in a politically-charged and fearful environment,” he said. “When you think about it, on a plane with 200 passengers, it means that 14 people immediately begin to think about violence when politics is a topic of conversation. This is a worrisome number that reflects the increasing sense of political division in our society, which we clearly need to moderate.”

A majority of Americans polled by Bospar also want to keep politics out of their airline travels. When asked if they “would fly an airline with a political point of view,”  a majority (58.7%) said “no.” A majority (53.4%) also believe it is unacceptable for airline employees to publicly share any political views with customers, while 20.3% said expressions of a Democratic point of view were okay. But 9.1% report that Conservative, Republican (8.2%), Liberal (4.8%), and MAGA (4.2%) expressions were acceptable coming from flight personnel, illuminating our continued national divisions.

Is a Bit of Bullying Okay?

Calling a city like San Francisco by a nickname like “San Fran” definitely comes off as pejorative, and Americans polled by Bospar seem to recognize this fact. When asked if “calling someone by a name they don’t like is a form of bullying,” nearly three-quarters of respondents (72.3%) said “yes.” What’s more, some of those polled appear to have an appetite for bullying – at least for the verbal kind when it comes to city nicknames – as 26.4% said they would continue using the expression “San Fran” regardless. A bracing 6.5% of those surveyed also reported that they “like being a bully,” showing an appetite for conflict among some American citizens.

More “San Fran” Stats

Bospar also polled Americans on how frequently they heard the term “San Fran” and how they feel about the City by the Bay itself, as well as what the town stands for. When asked how hearing someone say “San Fran” impacts their impression of the person,  more than half of respondents (58.5%) said it doesn’t have an impact, while 16.1% think the person is uneducated, 10.9% think the person is stupid, and 10.0% think the person is a Trump supporter.

The good news is that 41.7% are hearing “San Fran” used less than last year, compared to 17.1% who are hearing it more and 41.2% the same.

The survey also asked Americans to describe their feelings about San Francisco. A majority (52.5%) were neutral toward the city,  saying that they “neither like it nor dislike it.” More than a third of people (34.2%) said they “like it,” while 13.3% of respondents offered a negative counterpoint, with 7.3% saying they “dislike” SF or dislike it a lot (6.0%).

San Francisco’s role on the national stage was also explored by Bospar. When asked “what city matters most to America’s future,” Washington, DC, led at 48.5% , followed by New York (25.9%), Los Angeles (8.5%), and San Francisco, coming in last at 5.9%.

“While we’re not always at the top of the heap when it comes to recognition, San Francisco remains one of the most popular cities in the world,” commented Sparrer. “At Bospar, we will continue to advocate for San Francisco as both a business and personal destination, and we’ll always playfully fight against ‘San Fran’ as a way to describe our beloved town.”

Methodology

These findings were part of a broader demographic survey Bospar commissioned from Propeller Insights to find out Americans’ use of the term “San Fran,” as well as their perceptions and attitudes about the current U.S. political divide. Propeller Insights surveyed 1,000 U.S. citizens across the U.S. Jan.2-5, 2022.

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.

About Bospar

Bospar is the award-winning “Politely Pushy®” tech public relations agency. The firm provides clients with national support thanks to its distributed agency model, which it launched in 2015. Bospar’s staff includes marketing and PR experts and veteran journalists from top-tier tech and business media. The agency’s strategic and creative thinkers excel in earned and social media, analyst and investor relations, and public affairs. Leaders from brands including Marqeta, Snowflake and Unisys trust Bospar to drive category leadership for disruptive technologies and solutions. Visit www.bospar.com, Twitter and LinkedIn.

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About Bospar

Bospar is the award-winning “politely pushy” tech public relations agency. The firm provides clients with national support thanks to its distributed agency model, which it launched in 2015. Bospar’s staff includes marketing and PR experts and veteran journalists from top-tier tech and business media. The agency’s strategic and creative thinkers excel in earned and social media, analyst and investor relations, and public affairs. Leaders from brands including Marqeta, Snowflake and Unisys trust Bospar to drive category leadership for disruptive technologies and solutions.

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