I’m used to seeing other states infiltrating Indiana’s airwaves with their vacation ads. Ohio, Tennessee, and even faraway Florida have been grasping at our wallets for years. Michigan even stepped up their game a while back by hiring the Tim Allen to narrate their radio ads in dulcet, nature-loving tones, mesmerizing us with the possibilities of boating and hiking and exploring the wonders of God’s creation due north of us, all while carefully sidestepping the whole Detroit thing.
This week, Indiana decided to strike back and dream big. Rather than harass our mediocre neighbors, the Powers That Be struck a deal that leapfrogged over Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the northwest corner of New Jersey to target the Big Apple itself. In an even brasher move against the colossus that is New York City, we’re not even bragging about our welcoming tourist trade, our copious sports-related attractions, or our much cheaper downtown parking. Apparently we’re looking for a few good businesses.
The following ad is the product of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation, a public-private conglomerate partly funded by Hoosier taxpayer bucks for the purpose of bolstering our local economy in any number of ways, some of them possibly effective:
Blink and you missed the message: Indiana is officially declaring itself Where It’s At. Yes, the ad candidly confesses we have farmers, but we also have non-rural things such as the future, big science, suspicious flying objects, and Things That We Promise Are Not Farming. Besides sports, we mean.
For a modest fee of $65,000.00, as cited in a recent Indianapolis Star article, this near-subliminal video is not intended for nationwide TV use; rather, it’s presently in rotation on the CBS Super Screen in Manhattan’s world-famous Times Square.
I’m on board with the concept of divesting other states of their vast sums of money and their large companies that would theoretically bring us all manner of workforce opportunities. But I find their placement strategy puzzling.
Our family visited Times Square during our 2011 road trip. Putting it inadequately: it’s a pretty glutted playing field, locked in a never-ending state of blinking, shifting, neon-festooned compulsion. Gawkers and loiterers have hundreds of distraction options. Does our humble flannel-shirt avatar stand a chance against Madison Avenue’s best and literally brightest?
Worse still, what if people spot the ad, focus their full attention on it for the entire eight-second running time, but refuse to take it seriously? I’m not convinced that Times Square is a relentless trendsetter in the area of quality control. Even if Farmer John and his stick-figure space parachute aren’t the tackiest subjects on display, there’s no guarantee they’ll make a significant impact. I can imagine them getting lost even in this crowd.
Even if it were broadcasting on the largest screen available in eight-minute bursts, what are the odds of even one captain of industry hanging out among the hoi polloi at just the right moment, craning his head ad-ward, being captivated by the very idea, mentally noting the URL write large, link-surfing in his office the following week to the IEDC’s site, and eventually pulling the trigger on mass relocation of a deeply ensconced Fortune 500 company?
Best-case scenario: this guy turns out to be a closeted billionaire who’s so inspired by our plucky Flash animation that he immediately moves to Indianapolis and announces a job fair for thousands of skilled laborers to come apply at his all-new Naked Cowboy merchandise factory.
If it convinces even one street performer to pull up stakes, head west, and create just one factory job, then that $65,000.00 was definitely spent. And who wouldn’t want to leave Manhattan for Indiana? Parts of one (1) episode of the big Hollywood show Parks and Recreation were filmed here in town, and we like to tell ourselves we’re a little less funny-smelling than NYC.
While I’m thinking about it, if you’re an out-of-state CEO reading this, I just have one favor to ask: would you mind traveling to Manhattan sometime before the end of the year? We have a little something we’d like to show you. And no, we swear it’s not about farming.