Tuesday, November 27, 2007


"Back here at home there's nothin' to do... / Vacation / All I ever wanted / Vacation / Had to get away"

Behold the first TV commercial in New Mexico's controversial new ad campaign:

The ad campaign, titled "New Mexico, Earth: The best place in the Universe", is drawing ire from folks like Ken Mompellier, head of the convention and visitors bureau in Las Cruces. Mompellier rightfully asks, "What does this campaign show of the things that we are known for?" After the aliens have their tête-à-tête about how awesome New Mexico is, there is a three-second flash of a mountain and a lake, but the commercial doesn't do justice to the state's desert landscapes, its art galleries, or even my favorite part of New Mexico culture, its cuisine.

While it is hip, bold, and funny, the campaign is also turning people off with its alien office workers, who look more like they're ready to tear into you than go golfing with you. Dale Lockett, president of the state's largest convention and visitors bureau in Albuquerque, wonders "why the state is targeting its centerpiece ad campaign to a younger crowd when baby boomers have time and money to travel."

I understand that baby boomers may traditionally be the ones with time and money, but baby boomers' kids are doing all right for themselves and we, too, have resources at our fingertips. I think New Mexico is missing the boat on younger travelers looking for a desert getaway. Arizona has successfully marketed itself as a destination for high-end spas and I, for one, am considering a trip there with a good friend to escape the harsh Edmonton winter and get a little pampering. New Mexico just needs to find its hook, the reason why people would have it at top-of-mind recollection when thinking about vacation planning. Dusty and I go there all the time, but we have family there, so that's our hook.

The ad company that created the campaign is supposedly planning to redesign it by featuring "less harsh" aliens and showcasing more of what makes New Mexico "The Land of Enchantment". I have two suggestions:

1) The friendlier, cuddlier aliens should be depicted visiting the lovely Georgia O'Keefe gallery in Santa Fe or enjoying the yummy pozole and sopapillas at Los Cuates in Albuquerque or walking around any New Mexican neighborhood at Christmas Eve when the simple and stunning luminaria light one's path.

2) Make the aliens look like this:

Look how happy and cuddly they are! I bet they just filled up on pozole and are getting ready to walk around Old Town. See? One of them has a walking stick and everything. Awwws!

One thing this new campaign has going for it? It gets everyone to visit the tourism board's website. Gotta love that controversy. It sells better than hot sopapillas.

"Vacation" by the Go-Gos
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