Oil spill is a crude and growing advertising trend

bullshitplug400x566 It’s an ill tide that … Spirit Airlines latched on to The BP Oil Spill as a way to divert attention from its own PR fiasco of charging for carry-on bags. So they launched a campaign with bikini-clad women in all glistening in sun screen with the tag of "Check Out The Oil On Our Beaches. While I’ve seen more risqué (and clever) things on the Benny Hill Show, someone somewhere objected to this. (And pardon me if I suspect Spirit of being behind this.)

Twitter users from all over the world have been tweeting about the advert while an indignant Facebook user has started the group ‘Tell Spirit Airlines their oil ads are offensive’.

Meanwhile, a chain of NYC gyms managed to come up with something slightly funnier. The NYSC is running ads which read, “Exercise sharpens the brain. Oil execs come in ASAP.” (For some reason CNN called the ad “tasteless.” A bazillion gallons of oil in the Gulf and you think this is tasteless?)

The marketing is seeping into new media with apps for both the Droid and iPhone that let you A) plug the spill or B) save a little yellow duck from turning brown. Elsewhere, everyone is trying to make political hay from the oil. In Minnesota, the Democratic opponent to Michelle Bachmann (R-Loon Lake) is flinging petrol-soaked mud because Bachmann also said the government was extorting money from BP to pay for the spill. In Maryland, Gov. Martin O’Malley claims his opponent is an oil company stooge because he once voted for tax breaks for the oil companies. Not to be outdone, the GOP has a video blasting President Obama for having the temerity to play golf during the oil spill. I really am not ready for a world in which the GOP disapproves of someone playing golf. That’s like the Democrats attacking brie. Have you no sense of decency, man?

What little quality advertising has been done about the oil spill has come at BP’s expense both thematically and fiscally. The beleaguered Gulf state tourism boards are desperate to get people to come visit. To that end, New Orleans launched a campaign with the tagline: “This isn’t the first time New Orleans has survived the British.” You know you’re desperate when your ads are built around a reference to the War of 1812. Next up, a Millard Fillmore quote. Probably the best thing about these ads is that BP is picking up the tab for them. Florida has already burned through the $25 million BP gave them for advertising and is now preparing to go back to the well for more.

But my personal favorite BP-related marketing effort comes from TerrorBull Games – the company which brought us War On Terror: The Boardgame. They are offering a free, downloadable game called Operation: Bullshit Plug (my but they do love colons over there).

This game is for two players. Each player takes a role – either ‘BP’ or ‘The Public’ and each player has two cards that represent two possible strategies. BP is trying to shore up its dwindling share price, while the public just want the leak plugged. Both players pick a strategy and play it face down, simultaneously. These are then revealed and the effects on the share price and the leak are worked out. This action is then repeated until the game ends. It’s very simple, takes just a few minutes to play, but is also quite devilish and deceiving.

Plus you get that cool/disgusting Ralph Steadman-esque picture.

New Orleans, where they’re still very angry

“The past is never dead. It’s not even past."

Forgive me this Faulkner quote that’s used every time someone wants to sound profound about the South. It’s just that I found it particularly appropriate as I toured the t-shirt shops of New Orleans.

 Nola 011

Nola 018 

\Nola 013Nola 019Nola 014

 

Heckuva job, Brownie!

Mexican hotels want to inoculate with flu-free guarantee

The outbreak of Swine or Hiney flu has run through Mexico’s tourism industry faster than a case of Montezuma’s revenge. In an attempt to counter this hotels on the Caribbean coast are now offering free vacations for three years to any tourist who catches swine flu while there.

"The ‘flu-free guarantee’ assures three years of free holidays to travelers who present flu symptoms eight days after returning from their trip," said Fernando Garcia, director of one of the participating hotel groups.

Sadly no such offer is being made to hotel workers.

Ninjas — not pirates — sent to fight tourism slump

ninjas-kill-peopleNine ninjas have been sent to Honolulu to lure visitors from Japan. No, I am not making this up. The stealthy killers were hired by Hawaii Tourism Japan and come from Iga City, a castle town in Japan which apparently specializes in all things related to the ninja art.

Officials said it was the first time the ninja group has come to Hawai’i to promote a historically accurate depiction of a Japanese art popular in Hawai’i and worldwide. The tourism authorities emphasize that this ninja group is faithful to the ancient traditions. The black-clad specialists show off skills in swordplay, sickle work, juggling, throwing stars and even “piercing objects with flying chopsticks.”

Who knew that “piercing objects with flying chopsticks” was part of the ninjitsu tradition? Equally obscure is why Japanese would be lured to Hawaii by the chance to see something developed and practiced in their backyard. Would people from Illinois come to Hawaii for the chance to see one of their corrupt (redundant?) politicians take a bribe?

Related — and true — story: Friend of mine got a call from kindergarten her daughter was attending. Seems the teachers were concerned because the little girl kept insisting her father was a ninja. When told this issue of lying was a problem the friend replied with complete accuracy, “Her father teaches ninjitsu — what would  you call him?”

I would call him “sir” unless told otherwise.

Lesbos sues lesbians over brand name

Is it a brand war or a cat fight? Islanders from the Greek island of Lesbos are suing the Homosexual and Lesbian Community of Greece because its name “insults the identity” of the island.

“My sister can’t say she is a Lesbian,” said Dimitris Lambrou. “Our geographical designation has been usurped by certain ladies who have no connection whatsoever with Lesbos.”

  1. Never EVER get into a fight with a Lesbian.
  2. You don’t get better branding than this. Open a Subaru dealership, put Martina on every tourist ad you can and buy your sister a house on Thassos.
  3. You can’t win.

Russia uses smiling kids in tourism ad for war zone

Hey, they originated the Potemkin Village, right?

Russia’s southern region of Ingushetia is trying to overcome its reputation for bombs, murders and shootouts by paying for a glossy supplement featuring strutting dancers and smiling mothers. The eight-page, full colour supplement entitled “My Favourite Republic” appeared inside copies of the popular Moscow newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda on Tuesday. … “Ingushetia, it is an amazing, beautiful region,” the supplement said on its front page. “You could talk about it endlessly.”

Or you can believe what the US State Department says about Inqushetia and the rest of the Caucasus:

Throughout the region, local criminal gangs have kidnapped foreigners, including Americans, for ransom. U.S. citizens have disappeared in Chechnya and remain missing. Close contacts with the local population do not guarantee safety. There have been several kidnappings of foreigners and Russians working for media and non-governmental organizations in the region. Due to the ongoing security concerns, U.S. Government travel to the area is very limited. American citizens residing in these areas should depart immediately as the safety of Americans and other foreigners cannot be effectively guaranteed.

I went to ComeBackAlive.com, the website for Robert Young Pelton who writes The World’s Most Dangerous Places and was very disappointed to find only very dated material on Russia and its dangerous places. Tsk, Tsk, Robert. CLARIFICATION: Actually the site does have more recent info, it’s just that when I used the search function the first page and a half or so of results were all for the site’s DangerFinder archives. Once I did a search for Chechnya -DangerFinder, I got the new stuff. Now I’m just disappointed with the site’s search function, not its actual content.

Louisiana won’t name its poison: Nixes official state cocktail

State senators were concerned that naming The Sazerac (invented in New Orleans: whiskey, sugar, bitters and absinthe. Sugar AND bitters?) the state’s official drink would “send the wrong message” about the state.

To which I can only ask, “Have they ever been to Louisiana?”

Isn’t that the basis of most of its tourism?

Story quotes a great exchange between the bill’s author, Sen. Ed Murray and Sen. Buddy Shaw:

“Is there a possibility that we could be encouraging folks, who were not intending to drink, that it would be acceptable and they could become an alcoholic?” Shaw asked.

“No,” Murray replied.

Two points for Sen. Murray.