Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Nurse the Hate: Hate "This Is Cleveland!"

The campaign has begun.  It’s all different now.  Can you feel the change in the air?  “This Is Cleveland”  I am amazed that an ad agency could present that campaign with a straight face and charge whatever the hell they charged.  “Stan, this is nothing like the “This Is Buffalo” or “This Is DeMoines” campaigns we cooked up last year.  This is fresh crispy creative that is gonna make those millennial hipsters cream their jeans to get into C-Town to drink some organic free range IPA and eat some stone ground locally sourced mustard!  This is the new Brooklyn baby!” 
See what I mean.  Click on this:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ku2WfVNUi4 

Seriously, the agency must have come up with that idea on the plane ride home and then tried to figure out how to sell it through for the weeks leading up to the presentation.  “Chad… There is no way they pay our fee for “This Is Cleveland”!  You can’t make me step into that room with that bullshit!  I don’t care how many grainy pictures you take of shit to make it look “gritty” and “real”, they ain’t going to buy that!”

But they did.

The “This Is Cleveland” video shows that living in Cleveland is exactly like living in a Miller Genuine Draft commercial from two years ago.  It’s all about having a grainy photo experience with fellow hipsters drinking microbrew and eating out at really expensive restaurants while being thrift store cool.  While this might be the experience that white people from an ad agency on an expense account have while they are here, and that probably mirrors the experience of the Positively Cleveland people that they are selling this concept to, that might be an experience that is almost entirely limited to the tiny population of unmarried college art school grads with no kids. 

I’m a guy that plays and inhabits some of the clubs they show on that video.  I can identify every location in that thing.  You know how many people I run into from my neighborhood or workplace (i.e. “normal” people) when I go to the Happy Dog?  None.  Zero.  You know why?  Because like the rest of America, the General Public doesn’t give a fuck about The Futurebirds playing at the Tavern, or that the Greenhouse Tavern is doing an organic Belgian Ale tasting.  They want to go to Giant Eagle, buy some pre-packaged foods, and maybe watch Transformers 2 at the Mall before stopping in at Menchies for a Reese’s Pieces sundae.  While it looks cool to show cool people doing cool things, is that really going to move the needle?   The Cleveland Music Scene that is being portrayed in that video (i.e. individuals making cutting edge original music reasonably well that can put 50+ people in a room when they perform) numbers about 200 people, and that’s being really optimistic. 

The problem about trying to trick the 17 people in every city that actually make up this target market is that those 17 people are aware enough to know that they can buzz into Cleveland for a weekend to see a show, but if the tour dates line up, they’d rather see that same band in Chicago or New York.  Hell, I would too.  No matter how many shots of East Fourth St are recycled, this café culture that is being presented doesn’t actually exist.  This video can literally be made in any city in the Rust Belt as Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Detroit etc. etc. all have a few really cool places to go.  It’s just sort of ridiculous to market to a tiny demographic, 11% according to an earlier interview given by the organization, when it isn’t really what Cleveland does best.

Like it or not, Cleveland is all about families.  Here’s a test.  A new guy starts at work, and then is asked “Are you originally from Cleveland?”.  If that answer is not “Yes” or “I have family here.” that guy is moving away in two years.  I have seen it time and time again.  I love it when the New Manager Guy starts and bullshits about how excited he and his family are to be here and how they plan on setting down roots.  Hey, did you buy a house or rent?  “Oh, we rented…”  Of course you did.  Adios amigo.

Cleveland is dorky families going to the Lake and having picnics.  It’s about day trips to Cedar Point.  It’s about watching the Browns get pasted together.  It’s about walking around at the Zoo and the IX Center.  It’s about our teams losing, our weather sucking, and people from out of town giving us shit.  It’s about friendly people that don’t like pretension, or really spend any time doing what that video suggests.  It’s a “we’re all in this together” mentality that a bunch of carpetbaggers from Kansas City couldn’t have possibly picked up having pints at Great Lakes or standing around on East Fourth by the Positively Cleveland offices before an Indians game. 

By the way, what happened to all the black people?  For a city with 53% African American residents, as far as I can tell the only black people that live here shop in record stores, dance in the streets, or play guitar on street corners.  Oh well…  In my mind Cleveland has always been a plum anyway…


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