I have a friend–let’s call him Bill. Bill went to high school in Indiana, attended IU, and has lived in the Indianapolis area for more than 20 years.
Bill doesn’t think much of Indianapolis. He’s a man of means, an intellectual, a bit of a gourmand. But he doesn’t explore Indianapolis restaurants, never drives downtown, doesn’t go to shows or events in our city. “Why should I bother with Indianapolis when Chicago is just a couple of hours away?” he asks.
I roll my eyes at him. I tell him that Indianapolis is a great place to live, and that there’s always sometime to do here–that if you think it’s a boring town, then you’re sleepwalking. I tell him about our growing restaurant and bar scene–about Taste andBlack Market and Revolucion and The Libertine and Recess and–okay, I’ll stop, but I could name another 30. I tell him about the great programming at the IMA, about Service Center for Contemporary Culture and Community, iMOCA, the Harrison Center for the Arts, Radio Radio, the White Rabbit Cabaret.
He’s not buying it. “It’s just not as good,” he says.
“But it is,” I insist. “It is as good. It’s better. We don’t have as many great restaurants or as much variety of nightlife as Chicago, but it’s ours, and it’s all right here.”
Then we get stuff like the Super Bowl Shuffle video produced by the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association. The awful mess went viral yesterday; as of this morning, it’s been expunged from the Internets.
There’s already been plenty said about this on Facebook, and on YouTube, and at water coolers around Indianapolis. Most people hated it and were embarrassed by it; it’s viral video, all right, but not in a good way. Some people think the haters are ridiculous, that it’s not for us, that it’s sweet and shows that we’re fun people ready to receive our out-of town guests.
I’m not going to pile on (much). I have only four things to say:
First of all: it’s time to lay off the poor dude who directed this mess. The awfulness is not his fault. A lot of people saluted, sponsored, and participated in this thing, and it’s not right to blame the video guy who works for the ICVA. He was just doing his job.
Second: people who insist on greenlighting these kinds of videos should understand that nobody likes them except for the people who are in them. You’d have to be a serious masochist to watch it all the way through. No meeting planner, ticket broker, convention decision-maker, football fan, or anyone else will watch this. No hotel will benefit from it. They all look equally dreadful. If the reason for producing this was to make our hotel employees feel good, mission accomplished: clearly, they were having fun. If it was produced for any other reason…holy crap.
Third: please, can we please try to have original ideas? I get so discouraged when marketers want to rip off other people’s ideas. For example, I can’t tell you how many conversations I’ve had in the past decade that start with, “Wouldn’t it be great if we did the ‘I’m a Mac/I’m a PC’ thing, only with (fill in your company/your competitor)?” No, it wouldn’t be great. It would be awful. It’s awful now that T-Mobile is doing it, and it would be awful if you did it. As for this video: it was only sort-of amusing when the Chicago Bears did it in 1985, when rap was young. If you’re old enough to remember it, you never need to see it again. If you’re not–what’s the point?
Fourth: I’m sorry, Bill. Some of us have been working for decades to make Indianapolis a smarter, cooler, better place. But maybe you’re right. We may just be as lame as you think we are. See you at Spiaggia.