Sunday, June 17, 2007

Oregon: We Love Women With Swords

I was spending some quality time with the current New Yorker when I happened upon the latest installment of the "Oregon: We Love Dreamers" promotional campaign. Here, take a good hard look:

Aw, hell, I don't even know where to start. So let's do like good graduate students, and narrow our thesis. I will let the lameness of the copy shriek for itself. I will avoid catty remarks about how, on the flip side of this page, there is a second full-page ad featuring Portland's arguably "world-renowned" but basically snoreworthy (oops! catty!) Pink Martini. Let us instead simply review the ad's four images -- the images that some genius at Weiden + Kennedy has chosen to entice my fellow New Yorker readers to put down whatever else they were doing and flock to the cultural attractions of the Beaver State.
Upper Left: The Schnitz. Not a bad start! The "Portland" sign on the old Paramount Theater conveys urban excitement and the promise of after-dark culture. It's obvious what's going on in this picture, and it's obvious WHERE it's going on.
Upper Right: A Woman With a Sword. Uh-oh. Now, as a card-carrying native Oregonian, I can surmise that this is an ACTRESS, presumably from the very excellent Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon. I can even guess that she is standing along beautiful Lithia Creek. Charming town, Ashland.
But you know what? There is absolutely no way that Mr. and Mrs. Where-Should-We-Spend-Our-Tourist-Dollars, of Arlington, Virginia, are going to be able to parse that. They are going to see a woman with a sword. "What's with the sword?" Mr. WSWSOTD will ask. "I don't know," his beloved will reply. "Maybe people in Oregon are just extremely eccentric." "Could be," he'll acknowledge. "Hey! Here's a tourist brochure from Wisconsin!"
Lower Left: A Man Holding a Big Chunk of Meat. He looks very friendly, but I'm not sure WHAT he's up too. One looks in vain for any small-print explanation. Perhaps he is getting ready to cook something that the Woman With a Sword killed.
Lower Right: A Woman with a Very Large Book. Mrs. 5000 thinks she knows what this one is all about, but I certainly wouldn't have got it on my own. Now, it is possible that the W+K market reseach department has found that a large segment of the New Yorker readership plans its discretionary travel around Very Large Book destinations. But I kind of doubt it. And if the idea is to cash in on the reputation of the fabulous City of Books -- and hey! that's a great idea! -- I think a slightly less oblique approach is called for.
Just a suggestion. After all, what do ~I~ know about manipulating popular ideas about places?


fingerstothebone said...

My goodness, aren't you a curmudgeon. I had a sword...well, ok, a saber, and ok, it was just loaned to me for the class, but I have to say, attacking people with a sword is A LOT OF FUN!

Anonymous said...

Good! Let's keep all of the New Yorkers out of this place by scaring them away with swords and butcher knives! (except for me. I'm allowed)

ryc: very shiny. I can't wait to try them. They set me back a good chunk so I'm hoping they work out. otherwise, craigslist, here I come.

Michael5000 said...

@fingers: So that was YOU with the sword! You'll be hearing from my lawyer.

@mydog: You're one of us now.

Jenny! said...

The guy holding his meat, um I mean the meat...looks like a pud! I haven't been to Portland, would like to come, but not so sure anymore...the creep and his meat are a bit of a turnoff!

Michael5000 said...

See, that's what I'm talking about. We've lost Jenny!'s tourist dollars, W+K have run off with my hard-earned tax money, and I'm left holding the, uh, ham. Or whatever.