A Revolutionary State Marketing Campaign?

History is the main theme behind the 2-year, $27 million tourism project

Chowder, Inc
A Revolutionary State Marketing Campaign?
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A Revolutionary State Marketing Campaign?


If Connecticut’s new marketing campaign is any indication, we’re a state filled with “history.”

History is the main theme behind the 2-year, $27 million tourism project - which now has the tagline, “Connecticut: Still Revolutionary.”  It’s meant to capitalize not just on our role in the revolutionary war as well as the revolutionary thinkers, builders and tinkerers our state has been home to.  

For those who want to capitalize in our tri-cornered hat past - this new slogan is a boon.  For those who wanted something a bit more...well, “revolutionary” it’s a bit of a disappointment. 

Today we checked in with a few folks who went public with their initial reactions to the campaign. Jacques Lamarre from The Mark Twain House wanted to give some context to this campaign, considering the state's history with the infamous $1 tourism budget under Governor Jodi Rell.  "Anything, as a baseline, is better than what we had," he said.  "To have something that looks as solid as it does for something that was turned around so quickly shows that they weren't going to wait. They were going to be aggressive about getting something, anything out there in time for the summer tourism boom."

Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green was not impressed (although he admitted the ad "grows on you.") While Green is happy the state is spending money on this, he isn't happy with the "Still" in the slogan "Still Revolutionary." "It projects to the world, ya know, you're not going to find anything unexpected here," he said, "Which I think is a disservice because the great thing about Connecticut is that there is so much unexpected here."

Kip Bergstrom, Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Economic and Community Development, defended the state's campaign. He mentioned the "evocative" venue sites and the subtle storylines in the new ad. The ad targets multiple audiences - bothConnecticut residents, and those the state hopes to attract to visit and live here. He explained that "None of the states of the 13 original colonies, including Massachusetts, have claimed the position of history as the basis for their state identity and tourism marketing. Nobody's done it, so it's out there for us to grab."    

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton was  tweeting his opinions on the new marketing campaign. On the show he applauded the fact that the state is putting money into tourism, but he was not so sure about the message. "Is it about tourism or economic development?" He asked.  "When you try to serve two masters you do neither well."

Bergstrom once again defended the brand as being "developed by a Connecticut firm," the Harrison Group in Waterbury - although Chowder, Inc, a New York firm, came up with the slogan and directed the TV commercials. 



thoughts from the public history folks at CCSU

I've been having a robust discussion about this with my colleagues and students in public history at CCSU. While we give this ad kudos for having a diverse cast, overall it's rather dull. In addition, if the intention is to show that Connecticut was and is a place of innovation then why no footage of places that illustrate the state's industrial past?

Listener Email from Deb

Hi! I think to say 'Revolutionary Fun" and focus on the newer fun things to do might be a good idea -- amusement park at the Middletown Quarry, the zipline park mid-state, beaches, etc.

If you say "Still Revolutionary" you reference our true revolutionary past in which the people were truly revolting against the state -- if you use that slogan you may want to use footage from 'Occupy Hartford" or "Occupy New Haven" That is "still revolutionary" -- literally people still revolting against "taxation without representation" over 200 years later.

I think you want to use the term "revolutionary" to promote tourism you must do it with a wink by using the word "fun" with it, rather than saying we are still revolutionary-- -- to say that you must respect the revolution which continues to this day.

Listener Email from Julie

I see the difficulty with the tagline however, I also see the connection between present and past. I recently discovered that my mother's family were among the first settlers in Windsor, Connecticut's first town. I moved here from the south and discovered this connection to Connecticut's history after moving here. My heart feels more of an attachment because of this history but it's also caused me to explore more of the state. I totally disagree with the caller that says Connecticut is boring -- I encourage everyone to look more deeply at his/her surroundings. Connecticut is beautiful and my new home. Great show!

Listener Email from B

RE: I Love NY, a lot of what that had going for it was the song. People sang it everywhere. They would even steal the tune and love other things but when using the tune, NY was in their mind.
I think that is a big reason it was a success. I still remember the scenes of the broadway actors singing on broadway.

Listener Email from Matt


Anyone with a hint of sensitivity to the English language can see that this is an awful "tag line."

First, the word "Still." Possibly the longest single-syllable word in English. I mean, when does it even end? It could last forever!

Next, "Revolutionary." A huge, six-syllable behemoth that takes less time to say than it should, but nevertheless contains such a massive range of possibility and reference that in a two word phrase like this it becomes senseless.

Give me a break. Comparing this to the clean, sharp, attractive "I love (Heart) NY" is very unfortunate. The fellow from the group that planned this "tag line," and defends it with long, droll explanations is way off. "Still Revolutionary," sounds like every other embarrassing state advertising line I see in commercials when I stay in hotels somewhere.

Want a hip Connecticut? Check out Ragged Mountain Guides for tons of great rock climbing in Central Connecticut, or The Hartford Denim Company, keeping things weird... It's definitely out there, but this line was broken when it came out of the bag. Stillborn.


A Connecticut Tourist from New York

Listener Email from Jim

I only had a chance to hear half the show today but thanks for taking up the subject. I'm a proud Connecticut native and a veteran advertising practicioner so today's show hit particularly close to home (pun not intended.)

I have three points.

First, it is a very positive step in the right direction that we're back out there selling Connecticut. It's generally better to define oneself than to allow oneself to be defined by others.

Second, advertising creative (whether it is print ads or TV spots) is never universally loved by all constituencies so debating what could've been done differently in terms of the message or style is nearly pointless. The production quality was good, not $27 million good, but it is done well.

I was born here in CT. I have spent most of my life here in CT. However, for about 10 years I did live elsewhere --Washington, DC, Baltimore, MD and Richmond, VA (three fantastic places to live.) Even relative to these fantastic places. I still feel that Connecticut is special and a great place to live.

My third point is that the most important aspect of the advertising campaign is that it does accentuate the great physical, cultural and historic assets that we have in Connecticut and it does give residents reasons to be proud of our state. If one reads the comments to Rick Green's post yesterday ('Still BORING!') it is clear that our citizens badly need a positive shot in the arm and reasons to feel good about Connecticut. We'll never be New York or Boston but it doesn't mean we can't still be a great place to live, work and play.

If only we could all appreciate that there are few places in the world as enjoyable to visit and live (especially in the spring, summer and fall seasons) as places like Chester, Essex, Mystic, Stonington, Pomfret, Woodstock, Litchfield, Kent, New Haven, Madison and the list goes on and on.

If all the new ad campaign accomplishes is helping us feel better about State then it will have accomplished an important first step toward a better place for others to visit.