Friday, December 11, 2009

A complaint ...

Those of you who know me in person know that I'm inclined to complain every once in a while ... and well, I want to air a complaint today.

My post about The Big Sky mentioned Montana's long history of tourism promotion slogans, and I confess I'm perfectly happy with some of the old ones -- "Land of Shining Mountains," for example, is pretty hard to beat. Nonetheless, the state tourism folks somehow feel the need to invent new slogans every once in a while. The current one being hyped by Travel Montana is "There's Nothing There," which has apparently been getting good reviews from advertising guys ... though it just makes my eyes roll.

The thing that I really want to complain about, though, is this: a big chunk of the current Montana ad campaign focuses on Yellowstone, as in the sample below. Travel Montana has been doing this for years, blithely ignoring the fact that the Yellowstone photos they use are all shot in Wyoming! In fact, roughly 96 percent of the park is in Wyoming ... making ads like this seem pretty disingenuous at best. It's embarrassing for the state, I think, and if I were a Wyomingite I'd be a little ticked off.

Besides, we don't need Yellowstone! The real Montana is way cooler, anyway.


  1. I'm with you on this! It boggles my mind how so many ads and brochures for Montana places use photos of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and try to pass them for Montana. I think ignorance explains this, and maybe the availability of cheap images from the Web. The new MT ad campaign has a certain Vegasy, put-yourself-down mentality that is kind of revolting. But then again, gotta love that tourism money coming into the state. :)

    As far as that last comment of yours (you Jellystone-hater you!), I tend to consider Yellowstone to be its own "universe" since it was created well before the states around it. I'll agree with you, though, Montana has plenty of its own grandeur, beauty, and wildlife, minus the 3 million plus tourists per year. We don't need to lean so heavily on Yellowstone - the trick is we've been doing it for a good 130 years or more and it's a hard habit to break.

  2. Honestly, because I live so far in the eastern side of the state, I rarely think about Yellowstone. For some reason, Glacier is the Montana park, but Yellowstone just sort of slopped over into our state.

    It's interesting you'd post this, just now. A friend of mine wrote a book set in Eastern Montana and the editors really wanted to use the "Big Sky" to sell the book. We've been killing ourselves, trying to find a name that would reflect that. Montana has been marketed to death. I can understand the difficulty in coming up with something fresh for ads. All the stuff sounds like bad spaghetti westerns or bodice-busters or so generic, one would never want to take a second look.

    Heaven forbid they put an Angus bull on the ad, as opposed to buffalo....

  3. ah well, in a perfect world Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming would be one...sovereign state or some such...

  4. Jeff! Definitely agreed with you on the current Travel Montana campaign ... for me, it's just embarrassing. And our deliberate misrepresentation of the Montana-Wyoming state line is pretty revolting, on its own. After all their years of doing that, I'm surprised no one has called Travel Montana on that practice yet.

    And I'm not a Jellystone-hater! I'm just a Glacier-lover. :)

    I do agree with you that Yellowstone is in many ways a universe unto itself, in a way that few other national parks are ... it's so remote, and was there long before there was much local settlement. But I honestly feel that Montana has places that are equally wonderful, just without all the silly tourists. (And though it's a topic for another post, I tend to think that tourism as an economic engine is overrated anyway, since most of the jobs it relates are low-wage and seasonal.)