Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Obama did what potatoes couldn't

Barack Obama could be the answer!

Finally! A reason to visit Hawaii!

For years the Hawaii Tourism Authority has been desperately seeking a way to attract visitors. It’s not like Connecticut where vacationers flock to see their nutmeg. Hawaii is a tough sell.

Two creative directors have been given this near impossible assignment. Practically every day you can see them walking along some pristine beach, the healing tradewinds cooling them in this 85 degree winter weather, wondering why anyone would want to come here.

“If there were only Hawaiian potatoes”, one laments, knowing then they could compete with such destination states as Idaho. In frustration he kicks one of the many coconuts at his feet.

Following a spectacular but distracting sunset they brainstorm late into the night, lit only by the erupting volcano. There’s got to be something! And to make matters worse, the music and gorgeous hula dancers from the luau are so loud they can’t think over their exotic Polynesian dinner.

Famous Hawaiians were discussed and a campaign to visit the homeland of Benny Agbayani was drawn up. Agbayani, a former New York Met, is famous for once forgetting how many outs there were and giving a live ball to a fan in the stands while two runners crossed home. When he returns from a card show in Modesto they will present the idea to him.

Another idea is to fool people planning a driving trip. Re-record the standard, ROUTE 66 with just a slight adjustment to the lyrics. “Don't forget Winona, Flagstaff Arizona, Kingman, Kona, San Bernardino.” This idea is now on hold pending a Nat King Cole impersonator.

They established a film board and for awhile that was looking good. They persuaded the great Steven Spielberg to direct a couple of his movies on the islands, then took out full page ads in major U.S. newspapers saying, “See JURASSIC PARK and the real Hawaii”. That backfired badly when vacationers feared for their lives since dinosaurs inhabited the islands.

But now native son, Barack Obama has become the President of the United States! Tourists will definitely want to see where he grew up. The pizza parlors, the high school gyms – all the places that soon will become synonymous with Hawaii. What’s needed is a book to detail his life on the islands but surely someone will write such a book. (I might even have news of one tomorrow. )

But then comes the bigger question: Once these tourists have journeyed all the way to Hawaii and taken that Obama tour, then what the hell is there for them to do?


Pamela Jaye said...


*Now* I get the fun captcha words

is that a "warning to beware of 'parasitic infections'"?

I admit, I got it at Alan Sepinwall's - but it made me think of you...

Anonymous said...

My word verification is "parchid." Clearly, this word describes your id when it's very thirsty.

geewits said...

Well obviously you've never had the breakfast potatoes with Maui onions or you'd know they could market Hawaii just on potatoes. Oh wait! I missed the whole point. ;)

What role was Kate Winslet supposed to have in The Ice Storm? She would have been only 21 or so when it was filmed. The Ricci role? Not a housewife.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I forget to say thanks for the setup as well as the inspiration. But when will there be another op to pick up on this theme?

Four years ago the suits decided Dallas needed to shuck our outdated Big D / JR / nouveau cowboy image. Followed immediately by incessant usage of the buzzword “branding.” Ironically impaired they likely continued the agricultural-animal husbandry meme dating back to the 90s when, if you’ll remember, everybody was “growing” stuff. Growing the company, the economy, the tax base – all in the fields that once actually did grow cotton, before they sprawled it up on us. Frankly, if Frank Loesser didn’t scream “today” enough for ‘em, we could have just pretended Big D was a rapper. Good enough for Don Drysdale, still good enough us. But noooooooo.

Bottomless cup of focus groups. And what marketing campaign did they come up with? “Live large, think big!” Pretty much just a longer way to say “Big D?” This would have been all well and good, had not – and I am not making this up – Dallas not just been designated the “third fattest city in America” by Men’s Fitness Magazine. Supersized us right up to Big D+. Didn’t anybody read the paper? It was as if Pittsburgh were proclaiming “We’re the pits!” To be fair, I can understand how “Dallas, sometimes We ♥ NY Too” or “Dallas, there’s usually ample free parking,” just didn’t cut it bombastically.

What they did decide to cut was some TV spots of nationally-known Dallasites both trumpeting and epitomizing the bigness of us all. “Now I know that a lot of folks still can’t stop thinking about the Kennedy assassination, but I’m John Hinkley, and whenever I’m on unsupervised leave from the loony bin, I really look forward to hightailing it back to my old haunts in Highland Park, before our family resettled in Denver.”

The magazine said that being fat was part of a “mindset.” I saw their point. Be honest, how many people do you pass every day at intersections who apparently will only “work for food?” .

So I suggested we might do well to embrace the fat tag and carve out a whole overweight tourism niche nobody else was targeting. The magazine said 56.4% of Americans were overweight, 65.5% if just the guys. Go get ‘em! If you lean toward the heavy side – almost a gravitational certainty – wouldn’t you rather lose yourself in a crowd of fat people, than show up at South Beach where everybody but you and a laminate floor salesman from Jersey were perfect in every way?

Just think of the bumper stickers: “Dallas: We’re Just Big.” “Dallas: Are You Going to Finish That?” “Dallas: We’re Phat.” “Dallas: We’re Almost Salad Spelled Backwards.” Somebody needed to climb up on top of the Magnolia Building and replace the city’s huge red flying steed symbol Pegasus with a Pigasus. New slogan: “Live lard, think pig!” Sell the lame one they were hyping to Cialis. Wonder why nobody picked up on that?

PS wv: "noman." If the next one is "isanisland," it'll bring today's theme full circle.

Rob said...

Strangely enough, Kentucky has problems marketing itself. Several years ago they started putting signs at the borders that said "Open for Business" as though the during the previous 200 years we'd simply been gathering our inventory and hiring employees.

Luckily, our state spent quite a few greenbacks to come up with a new branding campaign.

They rejected my suggestions of "Kentucky -- So Great, You'll Want to Marry a Cousin" and "At least it isn't West Virginia" and instead went with a slogan worthy of the best of Mad Men:

Kentucky -- Unbridled Spirit. From what I understand, this tested very well with focus groups, although they said they wanted a happier ending.

Not to be undone, Louisville came up with a campaign and slogan of its own. Louisville -- Possibility City.

It's never been made clear what is possible. From my own research, I can say it is possible to find several low paying jobs, watch college sports, and buy cigarettes cheaper than many other places. I'm hoping that future commercials will clear it up.

As for Hawaii, it'll never catch on simply because it is too far to drive.

My word is "Batif" which was the album by Bruce Wayne where he covers old David Gates tunes. Or a drink served to flying mammals prior to a meal.

Mary Stella said...

May I have the contact infor for those guys? I'd like to suggest this billboard for the airport: Welcome to Hawaii, birthplace of World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillie Shane Victorino.

Probably not as big a draw as Obama, unless the Phils repeat.

VP81955 said...

Benny Agbayani? Hey, whenever you link "Hawaii" and "New York Mets," I always think Sid Fernandez.

word verification: "opsuseni" -- the page in the newspaper facing the suseni page.

2nd word verification: "vallic" -- how historians describe the era between 1962 and 1978, when Frankie was making hit records (from "Sherry" to "Grease").

blogward said...

Does this mean the "Hawaii Five-0" theme instead of "Hail to the Chief"? Now that would be cool.

wv: mangenta - not pink, for gay men.

Anonymous said...

Aren't you worried if you change the itinerary/lyrics on "Route 66" you'll have hundreds of people driving straight through the Highway 1 exit while westbound on the Santa Monica Freeway in an effort to get to Kona? (not that you wouldn't have hundreds of L.A. drivers doing the first part anyway -- they just would be trying to find an alternate to the 405 instead of the overland route to Hawaii).

Anonymous said...

Ya know, seeing that picture of Obama with his shirt off, makes me realize something: he seems less white than I thought he was and more Hawaiian...

Ummmm...wait a minute.

He's what?


Not white?

Ummmm...when did that happen?

Anonymous said...

Winona, Sedona, whatever--it's being rewritten.

But my real question is: where do Hawaiians go on vacation?

Cap'n Bob said...

I heard Kenya is also erecting a sign saying Obama Was Born Here First.

WV: winda. The glass part of a trailer's wall.

Tallulah Morehead said...

"Anonymous said...
But my real question is: where do Hawaiians go on vacation?"


Anonymous said...

Obama did what potatoes couldn't

You've had a potato as president for the last eight years.

Too obvious?

Anonymous said...

Don't think I haven't noticed how the combox degenerates into political sparring.

This is nothing but a thinly veiled effort to stop me from developing that starring vehicle for Don King as a banker.

(Like I'd forgotten, right?)

Anonymous said...

Actually, Ken there are currently 3 bigger names than Obama to draw Tourists to HI:

Dog the Bounty Hunter. He's not just a racist, he makes Keith Richards look positively "dewy"

Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole.
Who can resist an 800 lb tenor singing Somewhere over the Rainbow? After his death, it never made sense to me that record stores didn't move his section from IZ to WAZ, but I digress...

Bette Midler.
Her "Cumoniwannalayoo" Bathhouse Tour is Simply Divine. So I'm told ..

But, reason #1 for any Red Blooded Tourist to visit HI is: SPAM.
"The Hawaiian Steak". You can even get it @ Burger King.
Which brings us full circle to the Kennedy-esque Obama. Put on your pillbox hat, Michelle.
Jackie & JFK will always be associated with Camelot and you & BHO are now yoked to Spamalot.

Anonymous said...

Where do Hawaiians go on vacation?

Vegas, Baby, Vegas

Anonymous said...

This is why I keep reading this blog and why I check back several times a day: first for your posting, Ken, and then for the hilarious comments. Thanks everyone for making me laugh!

Michael said...

I have been to Hawaii. I will never go back.

Ed D. said...

A few years back, my friend Pat who had been born and raised in Brazil was getting married to a woman from Hawaii. His answer to the inevitable "So where are you two going on honeymoon?" question was: "exotic Nebraska".