Ken Honeywell | Partner/Creative Director | Well Done MarketingDo you like “Honest to Goodness Indiana,” our state’s new consumer tourism brand?

If the chatter on Facebook is any indication, the people are underwhelmed. It’s boring. It’s backward. It’s bland. It’s too wholesome. It’s not motivating. It’s what you expect of a conservative state with nothing to offer visitors. We should have come up with something better. Surely, we can come up with something better. Heck, can come up with something better.

Et cetera.

This sort of thing is a great invitation to snark. I’ve seen some very funny lists of “more appropriate” tag lines for our state. (My all-time favorite is “Indiana: Lowest prices on cigarettes.”) But, seriously: is this the best we can do?

I have three answers:

1. Yes. Have you ever been involved with something as political as a brand campaign for state tourism? I have, and it ain’t easy. There are lots of competing interests and lots of people you have to appease. Lots of money will be spent. Reputations are at stake. Even if your client is smart and decisive–I have every reason to believe Indiana Tourism is such a client–what usually emerges is something relatively conservative. “Honest to Goodness” is homespun and solid, and it may match who we perceive ourselves to be. It doesn’t jump out and grab you by the collar–but neither, really, does Indiana.

2. No. Of course we could have chosen a bolder campaign theme, and I’m guessing the agency presented them–or at least considered them. You consider all sorts of things when you work on this sort of project. Some are far out. Some are safe. Doing a bolder campaign isn’t a matter of talent, it’s a matter of will.

3. It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. People place far too much importance on tag lines, which, in essence, is what “Honest to Goodness” is. A phrase is not a brand. You can develop all sorts of great promotions and memorable advertisements using almost anything as your tag line. McDonald’s tag line is “I’m lovin’ it.” On its face, is “I’m Lovin’ It” too wimpy? Too sentimental? Too vague? Too broad? McDonald’s has been using it around the world for more than a decade, in a wide range of contexts, for promotions that have ranged from exciting and memorable to pedestrian and instantly forgettable.

In other words, let’s see the campaign. The tag line is perfectly fine–conservative, yes, but we’d expect that. But a conservative tag line is no excuse for boring marketing. What matters is how it plays out in the work. Honest to goodness.