Don’t Shoot The Messenger

This week at the CMA Awards, Chris Stapleton was the talk of Nashville .. and the most “Googled” name of the evening.  He didn’t just come out of nowhere to win Male Vocalist of the Year.  He’s actually been around for years writing, singing small clubs and releasing music without much commercial success.

He’s an artist.  Artists love artists.  Award shows are driven by artists.

In this case it’s an awards show and other than a few lost bets, the world goes on.  That’s not always the case when art distorts a brand.

Florida with a southern accentWhen I moved to Tallahassee Florida in the 1990’s, I found it to be a charming southern town that was the capitol of Florida … but felt more like Georgia or Alabama.  Their slogan to attract visitors who otherwise might only be in Florida for beaches or theme parks was “Florida With A Southern Accent.”  I though it was a clever use of the word accent, using the definition of the word that meant “to give prominence.”

When tourism slowed down in the 90’s, the CVB decided they needed something new, fresh and clever.  They hired an ad agency that saw the area as friendly, comfortable and with a sense of familiar.  Their campaign featured a picture of an old shoe and a slug line (which I cannot remember) inferring that sometimes what is familiar and the most comfortable is the best.  You know, nothing feels better than wearing a comfortable pair of shoes.

The agency loved it.  The CVB bought into it.  It bombed.

In the exciting world of tourism, who wants to be though of a comfort food or a comfy old shoe?  You can get that at home.

Nobody at the top fought the agency, despite concerns from others who just couldn’t see this beautiful, colorful southern city of rolling hills, historic plantations and a historic downtown capitol district … as a shoe.

We fight the same fight in media.  Someone comes up with a clever, “out of the box” idea and we all get excited.  The discipline comes in asking a sample of the intended audience to decipher the message and then respect their opinion (not writing them off as ignorant).

For media outlets, sometimes we do not get the chance.  Outside agencies control the creative and use as the messenger.

Don’t shoot the messenger …

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