Dirk Elbers told representatives of the city's business, political, educational and cultural circles at a recent meeting: “We are partly to blame for this ourselves, as we have over-emphasised performance at the expense of human, emotional aspects,” Die Welt newspaper reported on Tuesday.
“Düsseldorf is respected but not liked.”
It is a far call from Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit's celebrated and almost completely opposite boast that the capital was “Poor but sexy”.
But rather than wreck the economy and empty the factories in an attempt to make Düsseldorf attractive to hipsters and artists, Elbers commissioned an advertising agency to come up with a new symbol for the city.
They offered him a red :D – to indicate a grinning Düsseldorf. “We wanted an over-arching symbol which exudes the feeling of living in the city – the grinning D is concise and appealing. And we decided on red and white as they are the colours of the city,” said Frank Lotze, head of the BBDO advertising agency.
It is hoped that the fact that the symbol is already widely used in text messages and emails to indicate a big grin, will banish Düsseldorf's image of being overly chic and boringly middle-class, Die Welt said.
Lotze said he hoped the red grinning D would soon be widely adopted by the city and then reproduced on coffee cups, T-shirts and shopping bags as well as official promotional materials.
The first steps are being taken to get a trademark registration for the symbol, while the city authorities are also preparing to change their logo from the current blue corporate design to one based on the city's shield and which would be in red, matching the grinning D.