The beauty shot.

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.

OK, bloggage:

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.

Posted at 10:01 am in Popculch |

46 responses to “The beauty shot.”

  1. RoryonLawnGuyland said on March 9, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Nance: Lindsay Lohan is a butt-head, plain and simple. I hadn’t even SEEN the ad until your mention of it. Now I have, and she really oughta GET OVER HERSELF. Isn’t her 15 minutes up already?

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  2. coozledad said on March 9, 2010 at 10:41 am

    It also looks like cities in the US and Canada are moving to cut arts funding first. In the case of Durham, it’s the same mayonnaise dickweeds who pushed for urban renewal and tried to consign the city’s architectural heritage to the shitheap. I got news for them.It’s the artsy fartsies who built it back up.
    If they let the county idiots in on policymaking, it’ll just be a hole again.

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  3. Peter said on March 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

    Well Rory, you know how lawyers stand on precedent, and there was that famous Lamarr vs. Brooks suit that was settled out of court.

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  4. Jeff Borden said on March 9, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Lindsay Lohan is an actress? Who knew. I understand she was in a movie called “Mean Girls” written by Tina Fey, but wasn’t that about 10 or 15 years ago? I left the newspaper industry almost six years ago. Am I still a journalist? Nope. How long can she cling to this title?

    There’s precedent, I suppose. When serial matrimonialist Zsa Zsa Gabor was arrested for slapping a cop, she was always referred to as an “actress.” I guess this was based on her starring role in a nice slice of 1950’s sci-fi cheese called “Queen of Outer Space.”

    Meanwhile, I see that the father of She Who, Queen of the Death Panels, used to scamper across the border to Canada from Alaska to avail the Heath family of some good, ol’ socialized health care. She Who revealed this during a speech up in the Great White North, noting that this was “ironic.”

    Yes, indeed. That’s the word.

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  5. LAMary said on March 9, 2010 at 11:12 am

    I think some force has sucked self awareness out of the universe. Lindsay thinks it’s all about her and Whatsermukluks,well, what do you call what she just did? She’s not aknowledging the obvious is she?

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  6. Deborah said on March 9, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Milton Glaser, is one of my heroes. I often wonder how many star designers are actually known by the public at large.

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  7. Chris said on March 9, 2010 at 11:21 am

    The Butt Drugs commercial made me chuckle this morning. Loved the line near the end: Free parking in the rear at Butt Drugs.

    Thanks for the laugh on a dreary day.

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  8. alice said on March 9, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I’ll be singing the love theme from Butt Drugs all day.

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  9. Jeff Borden said on March 9, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Life is good. If you check out the Butt Drugs website (, you can purchase some wonderful tacky t-shirts proclaiming your love of said store. They’re cheap, too.

    Speaking of butts, I see that yesterday Glenn Beck was urging people to flee their churches if words like “social justice” or “economic justice” are uttered from the pulpit. These phrases, you see, are evidence of incipient Nazism and socialism. I recognize my status as an unchurched heathen these days, but I did attend Catholic schools for 10 years and seem to recall that Christ was pretty big on social justice. These days, I guess, J.C. himself would be unwelcome on the right-wing, regardless of all the Bible thumping over there.

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  10. paddyo' said on March 9, 2010 at 11:48 am

    Just for some balance (I ain’t seeking a debate here), I wonder about the Lindsay Lohan thing. Sounds more like over-ambitious legal help whispering unwise advice into her ear (OK, maybe SHOUTING it to get her booze-buzzed attention).

    But beyond that, she’s actually a talented actress, when actually, uh, acting. Without stoking the nature-vs.-nurture thing, she had Stage Parents From Hell. I’d cut her at least a little bit of slack. It’s tragic and a waste, either way.

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  11. ROgirl said on March 9, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I’m amazed that the Pure Michigan campaign got approved in the first place, and even more shocked that the commercial spots are so appealingly dreamy and tasteful.

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  12. Jeff Borden said on March 9, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    Duly noted, Paddyo. The destructive roles played by stage managing moms and dads is a fairly steady narrative in entertainment and sports. For every Jeff Bridges, married for 36 years to the same woman and a doting father to three daughters who finally won a best actor Oscar, there are the Lindsay Lohans, the Britney Spears, the Tiger Woods. They found fame, I guess, but at a price.

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  13. KLG said on March 9, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    This Southerner (who lived in Detroit as a tyke) spent a great week in Traverse City and at the Homestead Resort a couple of years ago. We will be back one day.

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  14. paddyo' said on March 9, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    And I second your (e)motion, JB, about social justice. I don’t know what Jesus would look or sound like if he were around today — Jeff Bridges in country-hippy mode? Door-to-door missionary, a la Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses? — but he damned well wouldn’t be out at Tea Party rallies or conservative movement conventions. So much hypocrisy . . . If anything, they’re the new Pharisees, though no doubt there are some of those on the Left, too.

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  15. brian stouder said on March 9, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Let me just say – the Michigan/Tool Time Tim commercials was at the very least an important factor in our thinking before we chose to go to Dearborn/Greenfield Village/Holland last year; and having gone (and been utterly charmed!) we are actively motivated to go back again.

    By the anecdotal metric, Michigan got its moneys worth from us – and may well get a twofer; plus we’ve told everyone we know how great that trip was, often getting the same response – a variation on ‘we went to Greenfield years ago and loved it; we should go back’; to which we always say – DO!

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  16. beb said on March 9, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Jeff B., I think part of Lohan’s problems stem from a graduate of the Disnay school of teen stars. She, Britney and Chrstina Agulara were all Disney employees at one time. And all of them are living train wrecks.

    As for She-who, apparently there are two versions of that story. One for Canadian audiences were her parents slipped into Canada for treatment and one for Alaska, where her brother was sent to Jumeau. As St. Ronnie would say, “there you go again…”

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  17. Jeff Borden said on March 9, 2010 at 12:42 pm


    Nicely said, especially the reference to the Pharisees. I saw a story recently on Joel Osteen, the evangelist who preaches the so-called “prosperity gospel,” which led me to remember those stories from school so many years ago about a humble Christ washing the feet of others, living among the poor and the disenfranchised, ministering to lepers and prostitutes and other wayward souls. It’s light years beyond what Osteen preaches.

    Whatever Jesus would look like, I doubt he would take much pleasure in what is being done in his name.

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  18. Catherine said on March 9, 2010 at 12:49 pm

    Don’t you think God would send a daughter this time?

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  19. Jeff Borden said on March 9, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Catherine, that is one great and delightful idea, particularly given the overwhelming patriarchy of the world’s major religions. How would Pope Ratzi explain the lack of women priests? Or the leader of the Southern Baptist Convention? Or Ayatollah Khamenei?

    You may have a great movie or novel idea here.

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  20. jcburns said on March 9, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    Oh, I’m way unwelcome on the right wing. Oh, you meant that other guy…entity…concept…diety…idea.

    PS, last time we were in the mitten, the Pure Michigan ads were playing nonstop in the rest area visitor centers, and they seemed to be 50% Tim Allen, 50% Jeff Daniels, and 100% music from ‘Cider House Rules’ by Rachel Portman.

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  21. LAMary said on March 9, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Justice is one of the core values of this Catholic organization I work for. We put a lot of effort into actually using the core values as guidance. Here’s the statement from the company website:

    Justice: This what the Lord requires of you: act with justice, love with kindness and walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8

    We believe everyone has a right to the basic good of the earth
    We strive to remove the causes of oppression
    We join with others to work for the common good and to advocate for social justice

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  22. Kriesa said on March 9, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    I hadn’t heard of the ad campaign until I drove home to visit my parents in MI this summer, and was greeted by a billboard that said only “Pure Michigan”. My first thought was that someone was fighting against “Impure Michigan”, and I wondered if I was welcome anymore, since I’ve been corrupted by living out of state since 1997.

    The ads that actually have pictures are very pretty, but I think that the catch-phrase could have used a little more work. Especially if they are going to have billboards with words only. What was wrong with “Say Yes! to Michigan”? That was catchy.

    Coincidentally, during that same visit, I was clearing some of my old boxes out of my folks’ basement. I found a $50 savings bond that I won in a “Say Yes! to Michigan” essay contest when I was 12 years old. So maybe that is why I have warmer feelings for that ad campaign.

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  23. nancy said on March 9, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    I don’t know why the state of state tourism campaigns is so uneven — maybe because they’re honor-bound to give the business to local teams, while New York enjoys people like Milton Glaser. “Say Yes to Michigan” became “Yes!Michigan” which became “Pure Michigan,” and I don’t know that one is any better than the others. When I moved to Indiana, it was “Wander Indiana,” which puzzled everyone, mainly because they put it on the license plates, “Wander” at the top and Indiana in the usual spot on the bottom. I recall a single ad, featuring a barbershop quartet. Which tells you something right there. (This was 1984-ish.)

    That was nothing compared to Columbus’ feeble effort: “Columbus, We’re Making it Great,” which seemed to have an unspoken subtext, i.e., I hope we’ve finished by the time you get here.

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  24. MichaelG said on March 9, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    Last year the Gov and Mrs. Schwarzenegger were featured in several ads promoting California tourism. The State Trade and Commerce Agency paid them $250,000 for the honor. Last week they returned the money saying all their bucks were in a blind trust (along with the Democrats’ balls, but that’s another story) and they had had no idea that the money had been paid. Can you imagine having so many bucks that you misplace the odd check for 250 grand?

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  25. Jakash said on March 9, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    I live in Illinois, and I love those ads. Always watch them when they come on and wish I was on my way to Michigan. Unfortunately, that hasn’t resulted in my visiting Michigan lately, as I haven’t been going much of anywhere. But they always make me WANT to visit, and look forward to the next chance. Seems to me they’re very well done.

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  26. Dexter said on March 9, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    I love the talking baby commercials that started this time a few years ago with what I call “Bob Quizno”, a baby who hyped sub sandwiches.
    Lindsay as a one-name celebrity? Nope. Gotta say the last name or most won’t know who ya mean.
    Madonna she is not. I just took a mental inventory…lots of one-name stars over the years, Lucy, Bogie, in sports, Pele, A-Rod, Babe, but Lindsay? Nah, not even close. She loses this one.

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  27. Jeff Borden said on March 9, 2010 at 6:30 pm


    Just a few days after Our Lady of Wasilla admitted her father used to duck over the Canadian border for some tasty government-subsidized health care when she was a wee lass, El Rushbo today declared that if health care reform passes, he will exit the United States in five years for Costa Rica. It turns out that Costa Rica introduced nearly universal health care 65 years ago, so the Oxycontin Kid will be availing himself of the dreaded big government-run medical system. The life expectancy and infant mortality rates in Costa Rica are largely equivalent with the U.S., by the way, but health care averages out to $6,000 less per capita per year than we Americans shell out for “the best health care in the world.”

    My goodness. First, the Snowbilly Queen, and now the face of the Republican Party, are embracing socialistic health care.

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  28. joodyb said on March 9, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    LiLo is a public figure. She done stuck herself out there in ways heretofore unconceivable. is that talking baby making a Lindsay Lohan reference? Certainly. Does she have a case? Absolutely not.

    IN THAT SAME PRIOR decade, the City of Dayton wanted, needed so very badly to have its own Columbus-like promotion. Some local PR genius came up with the “It’s Great in Dayton!” campaign, which of course produced an earworm-y and nauseating theme song. mark brilliantly pilloried it in his own version of the lyrics, which staffers performed at the newspapers’ annual gridiron that year. my, but daily journalism was fun.

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  29. coozledad said on March 9, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    Durham’s latest campaign is “Find your cool.” I don’t know if it’s worse than the old one,”Durham, Love yourself!”
    They just ignored me when I suggested “City of Cunnilingus.”

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  30. Jeff Borden said on March 9, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    I don’t recall exactly, but I think Illinois’ tourism tag is “Mile after magnificent mile.” One of the first clever tourism campaigns I recall was the old “Virginia is for lovers,” waaaaaay back in the early 70’s. It’s clever, it’s classy, it’s timeless and it works. They still using it?

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  31. coozledad said on March 9, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Currently Virginia says it’s only for folks who do it missionary style to make babies.
    Edit: It is however the home of Virgil “I’m not gay I just really, really like show tunes” Goode, and Bob “trophy wife” McDonnel. Maybe they need a contest for a new slogan.

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  32. joodyb said on March 9, 2010 at 7:07 pm

    arrgh. more lessons in the sticking-yourself-out-there vein.

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  33. alex said on March 9, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    El Rushbo today declared that if health care reform passes, he will exit the United States in five years for Costa Rica.

    He’s just giving himself cover for the real reasons he goes there. The place is a veritable fountain of youth, doncha know.

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  34. LAMary said on March 9, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Does the Costa Rican health care system provide unlimited Oxycontin refills?

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  35. MarkH said on March 9, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    Tobacco country, right Cooz? Shouldn’t that be “Find your Kool”?

    For years, Wyoming alternated between “Wild Wonderful Wyoming” and “Big Wonderful Wyoming”. Now it’s just the more bland, but true, “Last of the West”.

    And, Nancy, lest you toss my home state in your red ink vat, please know that Wyoming still has a sizable surplus, dwindling though it is due to reduced energy prices and production (except maybe coal). We still have the lowest unemployment rate in the nation followed closely by both Dakotas. Current population is about 575,000 with no city above 60,000, so there’s plenty of room for people, supporting CNN’s article the other day touting us as the best state for jobs.

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  36. MarkH said on March 9, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    Also, wasn’t the Dominican Republic where Rush went for the activity to which you all are aluding? I can’t imagine Costa Rica having a reputation like that. But I guess wherever he goes to, er, recreate will now get that rap.

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  37. Linda said on March 9, 2010 at 9:33 pm

    Does the Costa Rican health care sys­tem pro­vide unlim­ited Oxy­con­tin refills?

    I imagine they don’t ask a lot of nosey-posey questions about whose name is on the Viagra scrip.

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  38. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on March 9, 2010 at 11:32 pm

    LAMary, Micah 6:8 is apparently not in G. Beck’s Bible. It does seem that everybody is doing the Tom Jefferson thing with scissors and paste pots.

    But it’s a good quote!

    What is it that everyone has against Costa Rica? A quick scan of my internet apertures indicate that lots o’ folk are excited about sending El Rushbo there. It seems unfair, somehow, to the Costa Ricans.

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  39. Joe Kobiela said on March 9, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Say there Jeff, before you go all hyper you should listen to the whole statement Rush said today, and not just what you want to hear. He said he would move to Costa rica IF he would be FORCED to buy by insurance. He has stated over and over he will take care of himself and buy his OWN insurance in Costa Rica. Try listening to the WHOLE program not reading what some Lefty Loon wants you to hear.
    Pilot Joe

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  40. Rana said on March 10, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Joe, but that doesn’t make sense.

    Either (a) he already has insurance now, so nothing will change for him if he is “forced” to do so; (b) he doesn’t, yet if he moves to Costa Rica, he won’t need it, because they have universal health care.

    So, by those calculations, he’s against forced insurance, but not universal health care? That’s certainly not what the man’s been saying all this time, with his railing against the public option and universal coverage.

    In any case, he certainly has health insurance right now – someone’s paying for all those drug prescriptions, and it sure as spitting isn’t him, at least if they’re legal. For a guy who’s not going to be affected by the changes, in either case, as a rich guy who can live in any country that will take him, he’s being awfully noisy.

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  41. MarkH said on March 10, 2010 at 12:10 am

    Actually, HERE’S the article I was talking about on states with best employment prospects, from the Daily Beast:

    The rankings and figures I was looking at from CNN were from last year. Wyoming still at the top, though.

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  42. Dexter said on March 10, 2010 at 1:02 am

    Jen KM’s review of the new Burton film is here: (from Auburn Star)

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  43. Joe Kobiela said on March 10, 2010 at 5:37 am

    If he is forced to buy from the goverment
    Pilot Joe

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  44. Linda said on March 10, 2010 at 5:42 am

    What is Rush’s problem, exactly, with the bills under consideration now? Nobody would be “forced” to buy insurance from the government–indeed, conservatives are choking that out as an option. There will still be lots less “government intervention” in health insurance than his beloved Costa Rica.

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  45. Julie Robinson. said on March 10, 2010 at 8:55 am

    “Virginia is for Lovers” shirts spawned an answering shirt from a friend in a nearby state: “Maryland is for Crabs”.

    My parents loved vacationing in Michigan and I’ve seen most of the state, though I’m ashamed to say as a kid I rarely had my nose outside a book, so I missed much of the beautiful scenery.

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  46. Rana said on March 10, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Joe, that’s not part of any plan that I know of. Option one – mandated insurance without a public option, which means being forced to buy insurance from private insurers; option two – mandated insurance with a public option, which means being forced to buy insurance, but with your choice of the government’s plan or a private insurer’s plan.

    Then there’s option three, which Rush seems to think is fine for himself, if he’s serious about Costa Rica, but not for anyone else in this country: universal health CARE, open to all, with no insurance companies involved except for those offering optional add-on policies for those well-off enough to want them.

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