Friday, June 21, 2013

Vacation From Effectiveness

My wife recently pointed out--and rather astutely, I might add--the incredible differences in the approaches (and effectiveness) of marketing campaigns for tourism in Wisconsin and Michigan. 

The folks at the Michigan Department of Tourism (and their ad agency partners) win awards every year for the TV ads they run--featuring the dulcet tones of Michigan native Tim Allen over beautiful sun-lit shots of sandy beaches, lighthouses, rolling hills of color-drenched fall forests and boats cruising through the waters of pristine lakes.  All tagged with the easy to remember (and perfectly fitting) tag line: Pure Michigan.  It's the kind of ad campaign that reminds you why you take a vacation--to get away from the stress and strain of everyday life to just enjoy some beautiful peace and quiet.

Compare that to the TV ads produced by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism--which portray us as being a bunch of klutzes.  Much was made when David Zucker of Airplane fame was tabbed to direct the ad--which features his favorite "muse":Robert Hays (not a Wisconsin native) in a series of pratfalls involving falling off the dock, falling back onto the dock and getting slapped in the face by a fish.  And can you--of the top of your head--tell me what the tag line is from that ad?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller? (It's "Drop in!"--I had to watch it twice to figure that out myself.) (And nice job by former TV hostess Stephanie Klett to include herself by doing the voiceover work--the 10 viewers she had on Discover Wisconsin are probably happy about that.)

Wisconsin has just as many sandy beaches, lighthouses, rolling hills of color-drenched fall forests and pristine lakes as Michigan does--but you would have no way of knowing that based on what Tourism officials have chosen to promote in their ad campaigns.  (On the state site, there are some other ads that apparently run outside of Wisconsin featuring a mock Seinfeld episode--which would have been timely 15-years ago--but is probably lost on a number of viewers today.)  Take it from some other people that work in an advertising-driven medium--you aren't selling anything to anybody with your weak attempts at slapstick humor.

1 comment:

  1. Hello to The Wife. I'm glad to hear she's astute (one of you needs to be).
    I have not seen any of these ads. However, Wisconsin in recent years (lead by the current Republican group who seem to be either not into "nature" or from Milw area and just never saw a tree) anyways, they seem to be somewhat mocking in tone towards the long-standing WI "God's Country" tradition. YOu are too young to recall the "God's Country meme. But back in the day, WI natural beauty was really emphasized. It's really hard for older folks (and younger) to see the current rush to relax regulations and to encourage "business' to just scrape WI away.
    I'm not sure how a really poetic, nature-lovin' old style Tourism campaign would fare if that was juxtaposed with the current social-political issues of the day. It would at best be incongruous. At worst, the highly publicized controversies over mining etc, may act to cancel out claims of remaining WI beauty.
    Here on the western side, in an area long dependent on the hunting-fishing culture, the recent relaxation of wetlands rules have encouraged eager farmers and other land owners to grab a handy earth mover and fill in small wet areas and stands of trees. This side of WI is full of small. 'free-range" unofficial woodlets and many many smallish wetlands, ponds and the like.
    Now our area is also full of stripped down areas and removed bluffs and hills. You may not know that there were massive plans to "destroy" a large area along the Scenic River Road near Stockholm (a heavy tourist destination area itself that had to really fight to halt being stripped)
    If you were a habitual Stockholm visitor and you were aware of what's been going on over there, you may not rush to make plans. You may choose another location. The ads you speak of may be dumb. I hate Seinfeld, and I'll trust your judgement on that. But so-called humor may be a more neutral way to go, in order to avoid calling to mind these controversies and potential tourism "deal-breaking" cultural changes we have going on here. Of course I don't know what is in the minds of the ad-makers. But Scott Walker is (I don't see how you can argue this) working hard to re-brand the state. To change the culture. That means the culture has changed and we are re-branded. Choices have consequences. Old ways die. It happens.