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Nothing against Nebraska, but . . .

June 15, 2014

I know people who are from Nebraska. Some I’ve met, some I haven’t, but they all share two traits in common. The first is questionable taste in college football teams and the second is they’re all good people. People I think you could safely refer to as salt of the earth. One person from Nebraska who I haven’t met is Kathy McKillip, the director of the Nebraska Tourism Commission. I’m sure Ms. McKillip shares that same passion toward red-jerseyed college football players as the rest of her state-mates and I’m sure she’s also a good person but I wonder about her as a tourism director.

So maybe you’re thinking why the hell do you, all the way up there in Minnesota, land of outstanding maroon and gold-jerseyed college football players, care? No reason other than this afternoon I saw a billboard for Nebraska and the slogan was: “Visit Nebraska. Visit Nice.” and the picture showed two women standing together and smiling in front of some happy looking people sitting down and eating dinner in a restaurant and the billboard struck me as sort of weird. Not because we have happy looking people and restaurants here in Minnesota and don’t have to travel to another state to see or experience something like that, but that the state isn’t advertising a “reason” to go there. I mean Omaha is the home of the Reuben sandwich and isn’t that reason enough to want to visit? Or the College Baseball World Series, or the state’s world famous Omaha Zoo. Or Fort Robinson where Crazy Horse was killed. Or Chimney Rock. Or the cemetery where Charles Starkweather’s murder victims are buried or the jail cell he was held in and where he wrote a confession on the wall. Or Gerald Ford’s birthplace. OK, so maybe President Ford’s birthplace isn’t anything exciting, but I know there were a lot of famous people who were born in Nebraska, like Johnny Carson, Fred Astaire, Henry Fonda, Dick Cavett, Marlon Brando, Gorgeous George, and aren’t their birth homes or birth sites (assuming they’re still standing) more interesting as a tourist attraction than some happy looking people eating dinner in a restaurant?

The bottom line thought I had was don’t we need a reason to want to spend our vacation time and money in Nebraska beyond visiting an attitude?

Of course Kathy McKillip isn’t mentioned on the billboard and I’m not an expert on Nebraska. I googled the slogan when I got home which is how I discovered her name. I also discovered the slogan was the result of nine months of research costing $75,000. I understand a little bit about marketing and identity and that’s not a lot of money to spend on branding. And when you boil it down, in this world of hectic, whirlwind vacations to tourist spots, going to a place that’s simply nice – and more importantly sending a message to reaffirm a state’s population that they’re friendly people – isn’t a bad thing. I just thought it was an odd tourism attraction is all.

I’m not criticising Nebraska. Any state that gets the honor of being the title of a Bruce Springsteen album is a great state in my eyes so please, Nebraska, don’t hate me! Except when the Gophers play the Huskers, you can hate me on game days!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    June 15, 2014 6:21 pm

    Go Big Red! 🙂


    • Michael Fishman permalink*
      June 16, 2014 5:27 am

      Every day except for game day! Rah, rah, rah, for Ski-U-Mah! 🙂


  2. June 15, 2014 8:03 pm

    My best friend is moving to Nebraska this week! She’s found a job in O’Neill as pastor at the Presbyterian church(es).


  3. June 17, 2014 8:10 am

    Yeah….that slogan is a train wreck that has been receiving proper mocking within Nebraska’s borders.


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