April 6, 2016

"People became crazed by the idea that they didn’t get it."

"If you rolled it out over weeks, you could have made a case for it. But in the absence of a real presentation, and the presence of so many mistakes, the whole thing became enshrouded in negativity. The social media thing is a killer."

Said the great graphic design artist Milton Glaser — he of the great "I Love New York" campaign — about his work for Rhode Island branding, including "Rhode Island: Cooler and Warmer," which got thrown out summarily after it was mocked on social media.
Mr. Glaser said he felt the use of Iceland in the video and the other mistakes in the rollout prejudiced people against the end product. “We didn’t have a chance,” he said.
I had to make a new tag for Rhode Island. I think it's the very last state I've blogged about — I'd thought I already had a tag for every state — and it's a story of it not getting respect. Oh, Rhode Island. You can use that previous sentence as your slogan if you want.

57 comments:

Unknown said...

I'm from Rhode Island (Providence, actually, fiefdom of the late, great "Buddy" Cianci.) Back in the 80s the state was looking for a slogan (seems to be perennial), and they picked "Rhode Island Harbors the Best." One wit on the ProJo staff--possibly Mark Patinkin--wrote, "Why not just call it 'Rhode Island--Mobsters and Lobsters' and be done with it?"

rehajm said...

Cooler and Warmer? How do it know?

Expat(ish) said...

ADKAR - Forget it at your peril when executing any project or program across groups of people.

-XC

Henry said...

I can hardly tell you how much fun we had mocking Mr. Glaser's idea.

This is just one of the simpler examples.

As are these.

Unfortunately, Twitter suspended the CooIerWarmerRI handle.

But mockery aside, Cooler&Warmer doesn't resolve to a Twitter handle. Which is a huge fail for the marketing agency.

rehajm said...

With a cooler warmer you can have a warmer cooler.

Ficta said...

What's wrong with:

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Who the heck thought that the dorsal fin of a shark would be a good idea?

mccullough said...

Just rename the state to Rhodeland and Island

Michael K said...

It's mostly water anyway.

Henry said...

Rhode Island: 3% Bigger at Low Tide

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Cooler and warmer. I think maybe I've heard that before.

MadisonMan said...

If you have to explain a logo, it's not a good logo.

Henry said...

I think it's the very last state I've blogged about — I'd thought I already had a tag for every state — and it's a story of it not getting respect.

Rhode Islanders know all about not getting respect.

One of my favorite Rhode Island slogans is the creation of Hilary Treadwell, the same designer that came up with "Rhode Island: 3% Bigger at Low Tide" (above):

Don't mess with Rhode Island either.

Henry said...

I will add to Mr. Glaser's excuse that in real time the logo mockery preceded the discovery of footage of Iceland in the rollout video.

Unknown said...

Ok, so I went to the NYT article at the link and looked at the video (mercifully, with the sound off).
I actually recognize almost every shot (except the dock in Iceland!) They hit some of the mandatory high points: Starts with the adorable Bristol Harbor lighthouse(there's a beautiful, historic bridge next to it, though, which IMHO would have made a better shot); fancy-schmancy yacht racing in Newport, check! Cliffwalk mansions in Newport, check! "Sou' County" rose garden--check! Clammer stowing haul on his fishing boat--check! Newport Bridge--check! Providence River gondola--check! Providence River Waterfire tourist trap--check! Pizza oven--check! Bristol, R.I. July 4th Parade--check! A nod to our local sports teams and artisans--check! Cute black children (R.I. has a pretty sizable black population) leaving a prominently-labeled institution of learning--check!
Oddly enough, they missed: Rhode Island's famous and gorgeous ocean beaches; Brown University;, apple-picking, lobsters, surfing, picturesque winter sports (we have snow); 18th-century historic districts (which abound in R.I.); historic mill buildings (including classic 19th century mills and the Slater Mill in Pawtucket--an 18th century textile mill, the first in North America); our historic African-American, Italian, Native American and Portugese/Azores communities; yacht-building and jewelry-making (our major industries!), and various other things you would think would be no-brainers for a come-on to visit genuinely extremely beautiful and genuinely extremely historic Rhode Island.
Instead, they wasted space on shots of ugly and still poor-looking downtown Providence, a product placement for some corporation, generic drumming and bike-riding that could be anywhere. (We do have a lovely bike trail--they should have taken a shot from where it overlooks a flowering meadow leading down to Bristol Harbor.)
One problem may have been that the ads were designed to "attract tourists and businesses," according to the NYT. Maybe, pick one or the other. As it was, I didn't see anything that would make me want to put my business there.
My two biggest complaints:
1. They had a brief shot of shoppers in the Arcade, but nothing to show why that building is so special (look it up).
2. Then, that merry-go-round-aaarrrgh!! When I was a kid, Providence's lovely but run-down and dangerous Frederick Law Olmsted-designed urban park had a beautiful Loof carousel. The city sold it to King's Dominion amusement park in Va., because they couldn't afford enough police in the park to ensure it wouldn't get torched. They replaced it with a plastic and sheet metal modern carnie ride--ok for the kiddies, but a real desecration. I think the carousel in the video may be the one still standing on the grounds of what was Crescent Park, but it's hard to tell.

At any rate, mediocre meh. This, from a state that has a lousy economy and corrupt, incompetent government, but is genuine eye-candy and honest to god well worth visiting, plus as noted in the article one of the leading design schools in the country--clearly, not consulted in the making of this campaign. The logo is quite nice, though, could stick around.

Henry said...

@Unknown -- They could have used the historical merry go round in Slater Park, but that one doesn't have as many lights and the horses are fixed in position.

Also missing: At least one shot of the Providence Athenaeum.

Henry said...

Mr. Glazer's ass-covering really annoys me. How about "We deserve the blame. We did a shitty job and burned our client."

Unknown said...

Yes! Definitely the Athenaeum. Speaking of Slater Park, it has a nicer beach than the one in the NYT photo, if, like the ad campaign, NYT has to go with a "bayside" beach, when, for example, this is available:

http://www.yankeemagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/legacy_cms_images/13354.jpg

or, if you must include people, this:

http://www.best-beaches.com/images/misquamicut-beach/misquamicut-beach-rhode-island.jpg

MadisonMan said...

@Unknown, and no Del's! No Lighthouses!

I'd say it was Awful-Awful, but that's a drink ;)

Henry said...

No Block Island. Maybe Mr. Glazer thought that was part of Long Island.

Henry said...

No Watch Hill.

Henry said...

No Point Judith.

Henry said...

Glaser. Sic.

Unknown said...

Speaking of Awful-Awful (superb ice-milk shake--akin to the one from Friendly's, but bigger and better), the Newport Creamery is one of a long list of ill-managed and therefore now defunct R.I. businesses. I think Del's is still going strong--should expand, a la Rita's!

Maybe the filmmakers didn't want to draw attention to that aspect of the state (failing bizzes, that is, not icy refreshments). But, CVS is still hq'd there, and Johnson & Wales University--so, there's a start!

Block Island . . . reminds me, they could do shots of the ferries, including the Prudence Island ferry, since they seem to either have had a budget for filming in Bristol, or a clip library heavily from there . . .

Left Bank of the Charles said...

At the retail level, you can thank Rhode Island for CVS and Ocean State Job Lot.

The state is also notable for resisting all efforts to get it to change it's official name, "State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."

Unknown said...

Well, to do them justice, they couldn't get a parking sticker in Watch Hill! Meanwhile, Point Judith has genuine real-live fishing boats and thriving tourist industry / beach motels / clam-cake joints, so clearly wouldn't make the cut for this, either . . .

More overlooked: Naval War College; First Baptist Church in Providence; Touro Synagogue . . .

rhhardin said...

Anchovies and tin.

Maybe that's Peru.

Kyzernick said...

I can't recall having ever been to Rhode Island. I forget it's a state sometimes. And I'm from NY, practically next door.

Peter said...

"Given a choice between changing one's mind and proving there is no need to do so, practically everyone gets busy on the proof." Have you considered that perhaps even "great" graphic designers produce duds, Mr Glaser?

MadisonMan said...

There is still a Newport Creamery just north of Wickford on Hwy 1. (At least it was there last April)

Unknown said...

To Kyzernick: You're not alone! :) And, historically, RI was economically and socially linked with NY (specifically, NYC), far more than with Boston. Oddly enough, while the links to NY have dwindled, RI has not been able to hitch its wagon to Boston's economy, despite the fact that the commute from Providence to Rte 128 is about 30 minutes (I used to do it, have a longer commute within NJ, now!) There's even a train line, although they never seem to make the commuter rail option (as opposed to $$ Amtrak) work for very long . . .

One thing I never get is why anyone would drive from NY/NJ to Cape Cod, when there are every bit as nice beaches and towns in southern R.I., a much easier trip from NY/NJ, and you have all the cultural attractions, too (as opposed to the cultural desert that attends the ocean beaches of Long Island, or of Cape Cod, for that matter, other than some summer stock). RISD has a world-class art museum in Providence, for example, an easy jaunt from the ocean (approx 45 minutes by car, and you can even take the Providence city bus from Pt. Judith--a statewide city bus network--there's something business-friendly to brag about!)

Unknown said...

To MadisonMan: Yes! I understand a few of the franchisees bought the rights, or one did and kept a couple of stores open. So, the Awful Awful lives, just not as ubiquitously!

Unknown said...

To Peter: You nailed it! Speaking of which, that fleeting video shot of someone hitting a tennis ball on grass, where they cut in close to the player and it seemed generic? I bet it was filmed in the Charles McKim-designed Newport Casino / International Tennis Hall of Fame (Newport). Why couldn't the visual have looked like this?

http://www.halloffametennischampionships.com/images/common/backgrounds/horseshoe-court.jpg

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newport_Casino

(P.S. Rhode Island, heh. The Wiki entry says "Not to be confused with Newport Grand Casino, a video lottery terminal parlor in Newport, Rhode Island." I'm sure.)

gerry said...

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

Shouldn't that be future perfect tense?

Unknown said...

To gerry and Ficta: How about "Rhode Island, horrible animate survivor of distant eons"?

Henry said...

(P.S. Rhode Island, heh. The Wiki entry says "Not to be confused with Newport Grand Casino, a video lottery terminal parlor in Newport, Rhode Island." I'm sure.)

Years ago I was walking along Thames street and a bro in a convertible asked me where the casino was because he was meeting friends there. It was only after he drove off that I realized I had directed him to the Newport Casino. Hope he enjoyed the architecture.

Robert Cook said...

"No Block Island. Maybe Mr. Glazer thought that was part of Long Island."

Milton Glaser is a graphic designer; he came up with the logo and slogan. (Actually 10 slogans; the state picked the one that tested best.) Does it state anywhere that he came up with the commercial?

coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jameswhy said...

We gave Mr. Glazer $400k for his design, but did not ask anyone at the pretigious Rhose Island Scool of Design for input. There's a Presidential candidate out there saying we're being governed by stupid and incompetent people. He might be correct about that.

Henry said...

@Robert Cook. Good call. The video was made (commissioned?) by Rhode Island Commerce Corp and edited by a company called IndieWhip.

Glaser is only responsible for turning $400,000 into a facepalm.

BrianE said...

"Rhode Island Reds-- It's Not Just For Chickens"

That would be my suggestion

tim maguire said...

I watched about half the ad, it was full of awkward phrases ("like home, except not as boring") and contradictory messages ("forward thinking" while the visual is a revolutionary war parade). And nothing that would make me want to visit.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Well, the sail logo does suggest a psychrometric chart. What's the enthalpy at Providence?

gadfly said...

Rhode Island and Providence Plantations - Rum for Slaves

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

No mention of the Providence Zen Center? Meh.

Unknown said...

To gadfly: Absolutely correct. And, while many of the belle epoque Newport mansions were built with industrial revolution money--steel, etc.--all of the charming 18th c. R.I. crap was dependent, either directly or indirectly, on the slave trade. Check out the John Brown House in Providence (and, ahem, the Brown University endowment . . .)

R.I. was the last to sign onto the U.S. Constitution because it could see the eventual abolition of the slave trade not just by England but by the U.S., too, and wanted to be a "free port" for slave trading, smuggling, etc.

I originally had "slave trade" in my long e-mail on the high points of RI history, sights, and economy, but I figured it wasn't really precisely something the boosters had missed. More like a chapter that has long gone unacknowledged.

They used to take us through the John Brown House as schoolchildren. No mention of how he (and R.I.) made that money. This was the 1970s, too, not the 1930s!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Brown_(Rhode_Island)#/media/File:John_Brown_House.JPG

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Brown_(Rhode_Island)

MadisonMan said...

The furniture in the John Brown house is awesome. (And you can get it reproduced!! -- Link -- and I was wondering if this was the woodworker in the video linked to in the Times Piece).

JSD said...

Roger Williams founded Rhode Island Colony after being banished from Massachusetts. He was an early proponent of separation of church and state. Rhode Island became the refuge for outcasts from the neighboring states. The Rodney Dangerfield of New England.

Arguably, Roger Williams was also the first abolitionist in the Colonies.

John A said...

Rhode Island - Home of Cthulu!

Henry said...

Cthulu fans: Rhode Island / Deeper Darker

khematite said...

In 1967, well before the "I Love NY" logo, how many of us had this poster on our walls, but weren't entirely sure that we really liked it?

http://www.fastcodesign.com/3043692/asides/milton-glaser-reveals-how-he-made-the-legendary-bob-dylan-even-more-legendary

rcocean said...

Rhode island, like Delaware is a tiny joke state. A relic of the 18th century. Both of them should have had the decency to simply join a neighboring state and disappear. The same is true of Vermont.

Michael McClain said...

Waste, fraud, and abuse.

glam1931 said...

Obviously they should have hired these guys instead:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZzgAjjuqZM&nohtml5=False

rcommal said...

As part of my son's upbringing, I warn him against the lightweight likes of rcocean, for example:

"Don't rely on that sort of man to do anything productive for you, much less with you,and don't waste your time doing anything at all with or for the likes of him."



rcommal said...

Hey, do any of you guys remember "Blogging Heads" back in the earlier days?

Well, whatever.

Anyway.

I remember the day that Bob mentioned rcocean in a podcast--that is to say, acknowledged rcocean.

My theory is that this sort of thing empowered rcocean and also others with regard to joining up with rcocean.

And so it has gone, from that day to this.

---

I've got good reason to warn my son not to join up with the likes of rcocean, for example.

furious_a said...

How about "Rhode Island -- Broke-Ass Broke!"