Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A funny fail

As I stare out over the water at yet another incredible Wisconsin sunrise from the serene and sandy shores of Lake Michigan, I have only one question.

What they hell were they thinking?

Behold the latest effort from the Travel Wisconsin, my adopted home state's marketing arm.

Directed by Wisconsin native and master of low-brow comedy, David Zucker, the spot is filled with all the slapstick mastery he has displayed in his films Airplane!, Naked Gun, Scary Movies 3 & 4, and BASEketball.

Having been raised on the Three Stooges, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and other slapstick masters, I can tell you that aside from a few continuity errors, this spot is actually quite well crafted. The appearance by Airplane! star Robert Hays is a nice touch.

But does this little comedic gem convince people to spend their hard earned travel dollars in Wisconsin? I'd argue no, and that's not the director's fault. It's the agency's.

Advertising isn't that hard. It really needs to do just three things, two of which this spot does well.

First, great advertising has to grab your attention. Check.

Next, it must be memorable. Check.

And finally it must communicate a message that is relevant to the target and different from the competition. Fail.

The message I get is "any idiot can have fun here."

I'm not sure whether the idiot featured is a native or a visitor, but in either case he works against the objective.

If Mr. Hays is supposed to depict a hapless tourist, then the creators of this spot are making fun of the very people we'd like to come visit. (A quick advertising 101 refresher: never insult the people you're trying to separate from their money.)

If Mr. Hays is supposed to be a Wisconsonite, then he's doing a great job of portraying residents as drunken, simple-minded buffoons with a total lack of self-awareness.

I know the argument will be that the spot is generating a lot of buzz. But as we learned from coca cola yesterday; if you're counting on buzz to make the cash register ring today, you can plan on filing for bankruptcy tomorrow.

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