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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Nov > Nov 27

New Mexico Alien Tourism Ad Stirs Controversy

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 07:56:40 -0500
Archived: Tue, 27 Nov 2007 07:56:40 -0500
Subject: New Mexico Alien Tourism Ad Stirs Controversy

Source: Yahoo News


Mon Nov 26 2007

New Mexico Alien Tourism Ad Stirs Controversy

By Mark Evans
Associated Press Writer

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Instead of highlighting New Mexico's
picturesque desert landscapes, art galleries or centuries-old
culture, a new tourism campaign features drooling, grotesque
office workers from outer space chatting about their personal

The 30-second TV spots - which lead in roundabout fashion to the
tag line that New Mexico may be "the best place in the Universe"
- are provocative, funny and bold.

But to increasingly vocal critics, the state-financed ad
campaign is a possible threat to the well-being of the state's
$5.1 billion tourism industry. In other words, while the ads may
yield a chuckle or two, the joke is on New Mexico.

Critics say the less-than-cuddly, reptilian spacemen may be more
apt to baffle or frighten away a tourist than reel one in.

"New Mexico has a lot to offer - we don't need to bring our
standards down," said Ken Mompellier, head of the convention and
visitors bureau in Las Cruces, the state's fast-growing second-
largest city, which has refused to use the alien ads to bolster
local tourism pitches, as it normally would.

"My first question would be: What does this campaign show of the
things that we are known for?" Mompellier asked. "I look at this
campaign and I don't see the fit. And the things I'm hearing
from people, some of it is very negative."

Dale Lockett, president of the state's largest convention and
visitors bureau in Albuquerque, addressed the issue in a speech
at a statewide conference in October.

Lockett told the creators of the ads, Santa Monica, Calif.-based
M&C Saatchi, that their handiwork, while innovative, appeals to
the wrong audience. Why, Lockett wondered, was the state
targeting its centerpiece ad campaign to a younger crowd when
baby boomers have time and money to travel?

Rival neighboring states like Utah (with its "Life Elevated"
campaign) and Colorado ("Let's Talk Colorado") appeal more
directly to older, richer boomers in their tourism campaigns.

The ad makes no reference to New Mexico's most famous connection
to aliens. In 1947, the U.S. military said a weather balloon
crashed near Roswell in the desert, but legends persist that it
was a UFO, and a small tourism industry has grown up in Roswell
about the tale, complete with an annual festival and museums.

At a recent meeting of the state's tourism commission, M&C
Saatchi representatives were urged to "soften up" the aliens in
the ad.

Chris Stagg, a marketing executive at Taos Ski Valley who serves
on the commission, said Saatchi's creative team might come back
to the panel's next meeting with a "less harsh" version of the

Aliens are fine, he said, but do they need to be creatures "that
look like they're going to suck your brains out?"

Creators and supporters of the campaign, which includes magazine
print ads as well as the TV spots, got a boost when they learned
the ads had won an Adrian Award honoring excellence in
advertising and marketing.

The ads are the "envy of other tourism departments," said
Stephen McCall, group account director for M&C Saatchi.

Defending the oddity of the campaign, McCall noted that New
Mexico has unique challenges in competing in the hyper-
competitive tourism market. New Mexico's main rivals - Arizona,
in addition to Utah and Colorado - all have their own charms and
more funding from their state legislatures. The ad budgets of
those states each ranks in the top 10 nationally while New
Mexico's budget ($2.9 million this fiscal year) lingers in the
lower third.

Jonah Bloom, editor of Advertising Age, an industry magazine
based in New York, said he sympathized with a state trying to
get a big bang from a relatively small ad budget. "In a
cluttered world you have to try to something different. When an
alien pops up on your screen, you tend to be engaged," he said.

But after reviewing the alien ads online, he also said: "I can
see why people in New Mexico might feel like this is hardly the
best showcase of the state's greatest assets."

So far, the TV ads have aired in San Diego and Minneapolis, two
cities with relatively affluent populations and direct-access
flights to New Mexico. Print ads have run in magazines in the
West and Midwest.

McCall said hits on the state's tourism Web site have risen
since the campaign began. "There's nothing to suggest we have
turned off any target (audience)," he said.

Yet the fate of the aliens remains up in the air, with the
results of a study showing whether the ads actually make people
visit critical to that decision, said Mike Cerletti, head of the
tourism department.

"If that study shows what we think it's going to say, which is
that the ad is effective, then obviously we are going to
continue the campaign," he said.


http://www.newmexicoearth.org/ideo at:


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