Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Destination Branding — a dreary art

It’s called “destination branding”—the art of making cities and towns irresistible to tourists—and it tends to be one of the dreariest folders in a marketer’s filing cabinet.

How do we make Iowa look like paradise to a family with a few bucks to spend on a car trip? How do we make Columbus, Ohio seem like Rome? Somebody has to take a stab at it. And stab they do.

Let’s consider Connecticut. On a New Haven platform waiting for the train to Grand Central, I stand face to face with this scary image posted over a trash can: A smiling flame-haired woman riding piggy-back on a delirious gray-haired model.

The headline reads, “still spirited.” What th…?  Is this about an old-timer who STILL has the whimsy to play a grinning donkey? Is it an ad for vitamins… hair dye… testosterone?… or… Connecticut?
Yes, this couple represents Connecticut in some marketer’s eye—and in the minds of a team of bureaucrats who commissioned the campaign. STILL Revolutionary... What could this be a reference to? In whose fantasy is Connecticut revolutionary?

If Connecticut is “revolutionary,” then any place on earth is anything you say it is. If Connecticut is revolutionary, then Silicon Valley is potato chips. If Connecticut is revolutionary, then San Francisco is tall. If Connecticut is revolutionary, then New York City is equine.

Maybe I’m missing something. I go to Maybe Connecticut IS revolutionary… pardon me, STILL revolutionary. This is the web site.

A revolutionary aquarium. A revolutionary golf package. Revolutionary kids standing in water. Revolutionary canoe paddling. People riding on upright power scooters that, I guess, revolutionized human locomotion.

Destination branding is a dreary business—but needn't be. This campaign is shockingly vapid. It says nothing about the distinctive spirit of Connecticut, and rather than entice people to go there, these images would more likely cause any thinking person to mutter, “Wipe that silly grin off your face.”  



Addy said...

You have share with wonderful in depth overview of destination branding which is important of city which are in the game of tourism. brand development is worthy process to do.

Mott said...

Hi Claude
reminds me of Tufte's "beautiful evidence"
"the point of evidence displays the thinking of producer and consumer alike". This view of Conn. is like Delaware in Wayne's World
happy summer

brandsinger said...

Hi Mott -
Thanks for looking in on us. Wayne's World! -- hilarious -- that would make a more interesting campaign than the one cited here.

Have fun.


Varun said...

Connecticut happens to be the mecca of Hedge Fund Managers, the number being in hundreds at least, if not thousands. As it happens, HF managers (and other top employees) are usually in late 40s early 50s. Maybe this billboard was targeted at potential new comers? Just wondering.

brandsinger said...

Good point, Varun. There seems to be a deliberate target audience here.

On my original post: There is potential in the theme "revolutionary," just not realized in these expressions. In their approach to finance and investing, for example, these hedge fund players can be very revolutionary!

cheers - brandsinger

Shelby Brea said...

Silicon Valley is potato chips! Absolutely. Brandsinger is still revolutionary.

brandsinger said...

Ha ha -- Brandsinger is about as revolutionary as ham 'n eggs -- but thanks!