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David Minton - DRC

Degrees of coolness

Profile image for By Rachel Mehlhaff / Staff Writer
By Rachel Mehlhaff / Staff Writer

Unofficial slogan drums up support for Denton, student-run ad agency

Bill Ford thinks Denton is cooler than Dallas.

In fact, that’s the new slogan he created for the city: “Denton: Always a few degrees cooler than Dallas.” He’s even trademarked it.

“Since I moved here, I’ve really fallen in love with Denton,” Ford said.

He moved here this past summer after receiving a long-term contract with the University of North Texas, where he works as a senior lecturer and director of Swoop, the university’s student-managed advertising and public relations agency.

The slogan came to him one day when he was checking the weather on his iPhone, as he often does. He was scrolling through and noticed Denton was a few degrees cooler than Dallas.

“I was noticing Dallas was 103 and Denton is 101,” he said.

Ford said his friend from Portland, Ore., came to visit and thought the place was cool.

The more Ford thought about it, the more he realized there is “definitely a cool factor,” he said, mentioning the music scene and the area’s three colleges.

That’s why he designed a simple logo — black and white — and is now putting it on T-shirts, sweaters, coffee mugs and bags.

“I didn’t want to do green, because everything in Denton is green,” he said.

Right now, the shirts are being sold at the Abbey Inn, but Ford hopes other local businesses will want to carry his merchandise.

“I really want to keep it pretty homespun,” he said.

On Tuesday, Ford presented his new slogan to the Denton City Council — not for the city to adopt it, but just so city leaders know it will be out there, he said.

“I wanted the City Council [members] to be the first ones who have the merchandise,” Ford said.

But it’s about more than creating pride for Denton. Ford also wants to support the students he teaches in Swoop.

The merchandise has the Swoop logo on it, and Ford will be using 20 percent of the profits to create scholarships for students in Swoop.

He also offers students part-time work selling the merchandise and plans to sell the items a couple times a month on the UNT campus.

Ford, who has spent almost 30 years in the advertising industry and who has taught for about 25 of those years, said he enjoys working with students who want to be in advertising.

“What’s exciting for me is to see students who want to do this and to be able to show them how to do it right before they get into the business,” Ford said.

The student-managed agency gives students experience with real clients. Since Swoop was started in 2011, students have made brochures for the UNT admissions office, helped rebrand a pizza restaurant and worked with the Denton County Transportation Authority.

UNT senior Rogelio Tijerina, the president of Swoop, said he feels fortunate to have a program like it at UNT.

“The Swoop program is a really, really valuable program as far as giving students real time, real work experience,” Tijerina said.

He said simply having the degree doesn’t cut it anymore — students need experience to secure jobs.

In Swoop, students work with real clients, real budgets and real deadlines, he said.

Tijerina said he isn’t trying to help Ford sell the slogan, but he wants to see it grow.

“I want to see this brand grow in Denton because it’s helping students at UNT,” he said.

He also likes the message. He said it’s about time someone tried to do something like what Ford is doing — an unofficial brand for Denton, like the state capital’s “Keep Austin Weird” campaign.

“It’s a jab at Dallas but in a friendly, competitive way,” Tijerina said.

Ford also called it “good-hearted competition.”

“Denton will never be as big as Dallas,” he said, “but it sure can be cooler.”

RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is