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|ND Tourism Dept. Fail: New "Legendary" Ad Campaign|
|Written by Chet|
[Updated X2 in red.]
Making the rounds right now on the interwebs is the new advertising campaign from the North Dakota Tourism Department. There's lots to the story, but here's what you need to known for now: The ND Tourism folks rolled out their new "Arrive a Guest; Leave a Legend" ad campaign this week. They posted all their new "Legendary" graphics/posters on their Facebook page on Monday. A couple of the ads have drawn some attention. One ad, in particular, has gotten particularly harsh criticism. Here's that ad.
A reader/commenter has pointed out that the ad, according to the Fargo Forum story about this today, "was produced by Odney Advertising of Bismarck, Fargo and Minot." Odney is owned by John Hoeven's high school buddy, Pat Finken. Odney does much of the political public relations work for Republican candidates in North Dakota while simultaneously raking in over $9 million in tax dollars per bienneum from the State of North Dakota. (The old post suggests it was closer to $6 million, but I ran a new search on OMB's website today, and it's over $9 million). Here's another story about Odney's North Dakota gravy train.
So the Tourism folks posted this photo in a Facebook photo album where viewers/readers could post comments. The ad then got enough "inappropriate" comments that the photo (and all comments about it) was removed from the photo album by the Tourism folks. Some examples of comments people then posted under the photo album included this:
Drinks, dinner, decisions... regrets?
It's still better than "Wisconsin: Hide a body, nobody will find it, they're too drunk"
What can the "intended message" of the ad be?? A picture speaks a thousand words. Scrap the ad entirely and cut your losses. "Decisions" indeed.
that dude looks sweaty
As a former ND resident for 25 years, I think the ads are pretty terrible. Like, I show them to people and they laugh. Half of the ad copy makes it seem like you need to be on acid to have the imagination necessary to not be bored out of your mind (which may actually be true). Plus, one of the ads has a pretty obvious spelling error (momento?).
An example of terrible ad copy:
After looking through the other ads, I'm also suggesting you rethink the "horse mementos on my cowboy boots" bit. As an Upper Midwest native living in NYC, I have to say that just reinforces the hick stereotype peeps here have of the region.
Yeah. Not a big hit.
Here's what BoingBoing had to say about the ad:
We all probably had at least one friend who attempted to reinvent themselves after high-school in a way that was so not them that it just made you feel pity. You know what I'm talking about. Like the goody-goody who tried so hard to change their squeaky clean reputation, but would clearly never be a badass cool kid, no matter how many times they told you that they got "sooooo drunk" last weekend.
That's what this ad reminds me of.
BoingBoing ("North Dakota tries to be cool, fails")
Okay, so there's a little bit of "I'm cooler than you" in some of this criticism. But it also comes with a healthy dose of hard-to-swallow truth.
Personally, my main criticism of the ad is this: The ad's creator thinks something in this photo should trigger something in the audience that makes them think/feel "Someone's about to become a legend here." What about this picture would give people that sensation? Do you earn "legend" status by drinking a beer in the window of a bar while dressed like a JC Penney catalog model, looking at passers-by (or these passers by)? Is it something the young ladies are doing that will lead them to "legend" status? What "Decisions" are these folks making in this picture that will lead them to "legend" status? What? There's some unspoken message in the photo that the creators want us to feel. What is it?
I could tell you what I think the unspoken message is, but it would just be my interpretation. (And it's not necessarily a good "pro-ND-tourism" message, by the way. Hint: the photo reminds me of the worst "pick-up line" I ever heard someone use in a bar when I was in college. And, no, I won't repeat it here.) You might have your own perspective, and it might be fine. But here's the important question: What did the ad's creator have in mind? What did THEY think WE were going to see? What did they want us to see?
If you read through all the comments under the BoingBoing story, you'll also -- already -- find some parodies. Like this one:
That's right, Mr. "D+ in 8th grade geography;" Mt. Rushmore is in North Dakota. And this is an Applebees.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and call this particular ad campaign a monumental marketing FAIL.
Oh. And then there's this one, too...
"Horse momentos?!?" Really? What is a "horse momento"?
Look up the word "momentos".
This thing had to have been reviewed and approved by several people at the Tourism Department. Before that it had to have been approved by everybody at some ad agency Pat Finken and everybody else at Odney Advertising, considering they're getting $4.5 million a year from the state to do this kind of stuff. And nobody bothered to pull up a spelling checker? The word "momentos" didn't cause anybody to raise an eyebrow? Really?
I want to know how much tax money went to pay for these ridiculous, horribly thrown-together ads.
In fact... I'll try to get back to you with that.
And here's a question... and I don't mean to be snarky... How many non-residents come to North Dakota to go on a trail ride each year? A couple hundred? And why? Don't they have trail rides in other states? So you live in New York City and you're making your vacation plans and suddenly these words come out of your mouth: "Hey! I want to go on a trail ride! How about North Dakota?!?" Is that really something that happens?
I don't think so.