As a marketing professional with 10+ years of experience, there are a few lines that I have never and will never cross. Unfortunately, much to my dismay, one of those lines was crossed in a recent $5 million PR and advertising campaign for New Orleans intended to let tourists know that the city is still a hot vacation destination.
The advertising campaign, funded by BP and originally approved by the Convention and Visitors Bureau of New Orleans, adopted the slogan: “This isn’t the first time New Orleans has survived the British” in reference to the Gulf oil spill as well as the War of 1812. This was stated as if Queen Elizabeth herself was floating on a BP barge sipping tea and eating crumpets while she fired a bazooka at the Deepwater Horizon oil rig thus causing millions of gallons to spew into the Gulf. Followers of such a mindset are the same individuals that swear to have seen Elvis at a local 7-11 while applying condiments to a hot dog and drinking a Slurpee.
This is the year 2010 (just in case some forgot), and racially-motivated comments like these undermine what America stands for. More importantly, many Americans have died to defend Great Britain, and vise versa — the country is a true ally of ours. Creating an advertisement with anti-British sentiment shows an utter lack of creativity and intelligence (I’m sorry to the advertising agency that created the campaign, I have to be honest).
Fortunately, the New Orleans CVB has decided not to run the ad campaign, which is a very smart move on their part. Kelly Schulz, VP of communications for the New Orleans CVB stated: “This was one particular tagline in one print ad that we have since pulled because it was misinterpreted by a lot of people. It was not our intention to be anti-British. That was not the purpose of this campaign but that’s how it’s been dubbed. The United Kingdom is our second largest international market after Canada. And that’s another reason we would never launch an anti-British campaign as this is being dubbed inaccurately.”
Lastly, the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau needs to LISTEN UP! Don’t waste money on print advertisements that have a limited shelf life and will harm the environment even more. Investing in new age marketing mediums like social media which utilize blogs, viral videos, social networking, SEO, etc. to interact with people around the world will produce a far better return than the planned advertising campaign. Get on the ball, save money, save the environment from print ads, and ultimately save the Gulf.
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