The state of state budgets all over the country is the same — sea of red ink, soon to be joined by more oceans of carmine blood, as programs and jobs and salaries and the like are slashed in a desperate effort to keep up.
(This makes our conservative friends very happy, of course. But let’s leave that argument for another day. Actually, let’s not have that argument at all. BO-ring.)
Here in Michigan, where blood and red ink and dysfunction and all sorts of malevolent forces collide on a daily basis, they’re talking about cutting the Pure Michigan campaign. Which is? Glad you asked:
I know some of you have video blocked, so just so you know, Pure Michigan is the state’s tourism campaign. Narrated by native Tim Allen, these are 30-second spots touting the state’s beauty to potential vacationers around the country. But it’s more than that — the ads air on local TV as well. Full of swooping helicopter shots of blue lakes and white sand and green forests, it’s not just a lure to spend your dollars in-state, but a form of therapy for a state that’s beaten down, but still has an Upper Peninsula. I always watch them when they come on, and not because one featured the channel in front of my friends’ summer cottage. (The one whose depths contain the crude rubber toy exclusively employed for humiliating photographs of those who fell asleep before the others at the nightly parties? you’re wondering. Why yes. And who hurled it there, after starring in a particularly rancid series? You’ll have to see if he ‘fesses up in the comments.)
The total budget for the campaign is $30 million. The Senate-approved budget bill whacks that by half, led by a senator from Novi who is also behind the move to slash or eliminate the filmmaking tax credit that’s led to so much lights-camera-action around here of late. She’s what Cool Hand Luke would call a hard case. The discussion, as you can imagine, is about whether the ads are cost-effective, and various resort-country businesspeople are stepping up to tell the media yes, it boosted business. My question is, but are they effective as therapy? Is there ever a justification for feel-good spending by a governmental body? Especially in a time when we could use a little good feeling?
The “I Love New York” campaign, you might recall, was launched in some dark hours for that state, during its largest city’s Travis Bickle period. Times Square was all porn palaces, the subways smeared with graffiti. I’m sure some public servant there said proclaiming love for this place in ads running in Cleveland and Atlanta was a waste of taxpayer dollars. Who remembers them now? And yet the logo — designed by Milton Glaser, pro bono — endures today and is among the most successful brands in advertising history. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. and Mrs. Bean Counter.
Michigan’s a pretty beaten-down place at the moment, but we still have our looks. And our Upper Peninsula. It would be nice if our legislators would remember that once in a while.
While we’re talking video, the Butt Drugs commercial. Which shows the best of Indiana. Snicker.
Lindsay Lohan makes a desperate plea for attention. It’ll probably work. It’s working now.
And now, off to work.