Early on, the imagemakers from New York decided that they just couldn't sell this city with slogans like "Beautiful, Bubbling Baltimore." Or "Baltimore - Oh Lord."

They toyed with the idea of "Greater Greater Baltimore." They almost went with "Baltimore Country." Then one day, the executives of Lippincott and Margulies Inc., a corporate image-making firm, were struck by something.

"In looking at the word 'Baltimore' it became evident that the last four letters spelled 'More'," explained George Hafford of the Lippincott firm.

And thus was born:

"Baltimore

than you

know."

Around those four words the Lippincott and Margulies staff has designed a $1.6 million advertising campaign, aimed at enticing corporate executives to move themselves, their firms, their jobs and their money into the Baltimore area.

It is all part of a growing fashion: Cities, counties (Prince George's bills itself as "Baltington), states and nations selling themselves like soap or cigarettes with cute slogans and advertising campaigns. In Baltimore's case, they even have a song, "More Than You Know," the 1930s hit.

Before peddling their product to people outside Baltimore, the Lippincott and Marguilies executives and the Metropolitan Baltimore Chamber of Commerce, which hired the firm, have to sell their sales pitch to local business executives and political leaders, who, they hope, will provide the money needed to sell the city. It was with this in mind that the Chamber of Commerce today summoned the press to the H.L. Mencken Room of the Baltimore Hilton Hotel.

Between 1970 and 1975 some 41,000 manufacturing jobs left the Baltimore area - a total of 15.2 per cent of its entire manufacturing industry, Hafford said.

"Our objectives," he continued, reading dramatically from the words flashed up onto the two screens in the darkened room, "are, one, to expand the employment opportunity and, two, to expand the tax base and promote economic vitality."

" . . . The question is, how do you identify the area you're selling?" Hafford asked a little later in the 45-minute program, which will be seen later this week by local businessmen. "You need a clear image."

According to the surveys the L&M made among 50 corporate executives elsewhere in the country, Baltimore's image is either nonexistent, or just plain bad.

" . . . That's where Spiro Agnew is from," one executive told the L&M surveyor. "I remember Baltimore from when I was stationed there in the war," said another. "It's not a fun place."

And then, the clincher: "You just never hear much about it. It's a non-entity."

These comments, Hafford said, have led the L&M staff to believe that "a credibility gap will probably exist in reference to our claims about a positive life-style."

But they believe that, with the help of their slogan, they can overcome the nasty thoughts that people ay harbor about the city. "In that slogan," said Hafford, "we've got something exciting, something distinctive."

The whole business of marketing an urban area is new to L&M, firm president Walter Margulies explained at the start of the show. And, he added, it's a different matter than marketing Xerox or Johnson & Johnson, Coca-Cola or Noxema.

For one thing, Margulies said, when you deal with a corporation, you've just got a few executives to deal with. When you deal with a metropolitan area, you've got a multiplicity of public jurisdictions, mayors, and councils - plus a business community divided into a variety of civic-promoting organizations.

"Here," he said, "you're dealing with 26 groups - a lot fo chiefs and very few Indians."

The problem of getting everybody to agree on the idea of selling the city, and the image you should use to sell it," "is a challenge . . . That was the toughest part of our whole assignment."