Inside the Capitol

Saturday, February 16, 2008

2-25 Space Aliens Win Again

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- The space aliens won another one. Whether it's the friendly little green men from Roswell or the ferocious-looking creatures from Alien movies, they are attracting attention to New Mexico.
This time the winner was the alien office workers, who look ready to bite off people's heads but who engage in down-to-earth conversations about New Mexico being the best place to visit in the universe.
Last fall, the office workers with the very human feelings won a golden Adrian Award from the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. The prestigious award put them in the finals for a platinum Adrian, presented to the best-of-the-best.
To win the top award an advertising campaign had to be not only the most ingenious and creative but demonstrate exceptional results. The New Mexico Tourism Department could do that in a big way and thus the award for best in the class of Convention and Visitors Bureau/Destinations/Offices of Tourism category.
State Tourism Secretary Michael Cerletti accepted the trophy at the 18th annual Adrian Awards Gala, attended by more than 1,000 national tourism professionals in New York City. New Mexico's tourism ads competed against 1,300 entries from around the world.
The road to victory wasn't easy. As with the Rose Parade float, there were detractors who felt the state Tourism Office had completely blown a big chunk of its advertising budget. They felt the message of the ad campaign was that tourists should not come to New Mexico because we have monsters from outer space.
Fortunately the large number of people who responded to the ads were a bit smarter than that. They saw them as funny and light-hearted. New Mexico's Tourism Department, with a budget far smaller than surrounding states, had been able to cut through the clutter of thousands of ads with a unique and witty idea.
Sure, space aliens remind people of Roswell, but the message of the ads, which appear on television and in magazines outside New Mexico, involved all of our state. The magazine ads show the grotesque aliens enjoying many New Mexico experiences.
So many thanks to our creative state payrollers in the Tourism Department who came up with a way to grab people's attention from among the myriad ads coming at them every waking hour of every day.
New Mexicans who went to Pasadena to decorate the alien Rose Parade float got to know Miss New Mexico, Jenny Marlowe, who spent several days out West promoting our state. She also rode the float.
The Miss America contest in Las Vegas, Nevada was a couple of weeks later and the Miss America: Reality Check competition had already finished.
Jenny couldn't tell us how she had done in that competition, but she encouraged us to watch, which made us suspect she had done well. The reality check was a new competition designed to help contestants prepare for the actual competition. All 52 contestants spent two weeks under one roof being schooled in the basics of beauty pageants.
Some of the states that traditionally win have done this for their contestants for years, but as the contest has diminished in popularity, the preparation of the contestants evidently has decreased.
The Reality Check was televised for four weeks before the pageant and each time three contestants were chosen whom the consultants felt would have won that week if the pageant were held that night.
By the last week, Miss New Mexico was in the top three, so we tuned into the finals, ready to cheer Jenny to victory. The contestants were introduced in five groups. Jenny's group was states that never had won the competition.
It seemed prophetic when the announcer said, "But this year may change that." When the 16 finalists were announced, however, Jenny was not among them.
Jenny's vocal talent was supposed to be her strongest suit, but she didn't even get to demonstrate it. The winner's talent was the weakest of all. What happened? The show had so many production mistakes I could believe that was just one more oversight.
MON, 2-25-08

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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