Carroll: A Corny Tourism Campaign Turns Controversial

The new advertising campaign from the Massachusetts tourism office manages to achieve two opposite results at the same time: If you live someplace else, you might want to come here, and if you live here, you might want to go someplace else.

The centerpiece of the ad campaign is a cringe-worthy television commercial that, according to the tourism folks, depicts “a colorful river of images that flows from one Massachusetts attraction to another.”

Those attractions include a crazy quilt of tall ships, penguins at the New England Aquarium, Chinatown, cranberries, Fenway Park and jumping into the Mystic River a stone’s throw from the Tobin Bridge.

That must account for the “colorful” part of the “river of images.”

The ad also features a bouncy tune.

And that’s where the corny turns controversial, at least for some. Many conservatives see the rainbow as a gay-pride symbol, and what with the expansive definition of marriage here in Laxachusetts, well, you know what comes next.

On the right-leaning Web site Free Republic, the G-rated comments went something like this: “Actually, I plan to vacation in Massachusetts. (It’s on my ‘to visit’ list, right after Beirut and Chad.)”

Or, “At least when such information is up front, it’s easier to know which vacation spots to avoid.”

The R-rated comments on the Web site — you don’t want to know.

All that aside, tourism is a $15-billion-a-year industry in the Bay State, while gays and lesbians spent an estimated $65 billion on travel around the United States last year.

You do the math. It’s no wonder the Massachusetts tourism office has a Web site exclusively dedicated to gay and lesbian travelers.

On the other hand, the new gay marriage haven -– Iowa -– has no intention of marketing the state to gays and lesbians.

“Our message won’t be changing,” a state official told the Associated Press. “We’ll continue to market Iowa as a great place to visit.”

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.

John Carroll is a mass-communication professor at Boston University.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.

Comments are closed for this story.