The creative team tasked with rebranding Rhode Island recently rolled out the first pieces of the state’s new tourism campaign. While the team, led by Milton Glaser (creator of the I <3 NY campaign of the 80s), hoped to bring some positive attention to the biggest little state of the union, its efforts turned out bad. Like, really bad.
The website for the campaign was laughably erroneous, proudly declaring that Rhode Island was home to 20 percent of the nation’s historical landmarks while actually having like less than 2 percent. (Maybe they just forgot the zero??) The site also touted Rhode Island’s culinary offerings by showing images of a chef that recently moved his restaurant to Boston and another that died over a year ago.
The campaign’s tourism video was also a fail of epic proportions, featuring sights not only of Rhode Island but also of Iceland. Only a few seconds into the video, a skateboarder rolls onscreen in front of what was ultimately revealed to be Reykjavik’s Harpa concert hall, inadvertently trolling viewers from around New England.
On par with other pieces of the campaign, the logo, “Cooler and Warmer,” left many feeling confused and uncomfortable. The tagline was immediately pulled and will be replaced sometime in the future. The sail image that coupled it was pretty rad, though, and there hasn’t been any indication that it’ll be retired too.
In response to the gaffe, Betsy Wall, the state’s chief marketing officer, resigned from office and Gov. Gina Raimondo announced that the state would be getting back $120,000 spent on the campaign, for obvious reasons. Still, $4.5 million had been set aside for the campaign overall, and it’s now unclear whether or not it has the potential to bring anyone to the Ocean State.
The silver lining in all this is that the response from the public has at least been demonstrative of the creativity possessed by many Rhode Islanders.
— John DePetro Radio (@JohnDePetroshow) March 30, 2016
A photo posted by Christian Winthrop (@newportbuzz) on
Overall? Rhode Island’s tourism campaign has reached meme-status for all the wrong reasons. 2 out of 5 stars; would not recommend.