menu

Kentucky’s New State Slogan: It Kicks Ass?

Kentucky’s New State Slogan: It Kicks Ass?
Advertising

An unsanctioned re-branding campaign for the state stirs up controversy and begs the question, what's a branding best practice?

Allie Walker
  • 3 january 2013

Three rogue creatives, Whit Hiler, Griffin VanMeter, and Kent Carmichael, have banded together to launch a rebranding campaign for Kentucky. The three created a new agency, Kentucky For Kentucky, with simple and straightforward goals:

Increase tourism, attract new business, foster pride, diminish stereotypes, unify the commonwealth and distinguish Kentucky from any other place on the planet.

The new tagline for the campaign is also just as simple: ‘Kentucky Kicks Ass.’ And although the guys behind Kentucky for Kentucky thank the Kentucky Department of Tourism in the credits of their promotional video (below), it appears the feeling isn’t mutual. In response to Kentucky for Kentucky’s work, Pat Stipes, the state’s tourism department spokesman, stated,

We certainly would not sanction or endorse that phraseology. These guys are Kentucky natives and they love the state. But they have a different constituency. Which is no one.

KYkickass1 bourbon

While the use of the word ‘ass’ might be off-putting to some, Kentucky for Kentucky surely speaks to a certain constituency and the campaign does raise several valid branding concerns with the new campaign. First, they point out one major issue with ‘Unbridled Spirit,’ the current Kentucky State Tourism Department-approved tagline. While the tagline points to both Kentucky’s strong horse culture and bourbon legacy, a simple Google search reveals that ‘Unbridled Spirit’ isn’t unique to Kentucky- the first search result is a (very poorly designed) website for horse riding lessons in San Antonio, Texas. Although there are many more ways to find ‘Kentucky’ than searching ‘Unbridled Spirit,’ digital brand ownership is important. In comparison, searching ‘Virginia is for Lovers‘ or even more obscure state taglines like South Carolina’s ‘Made For Vacation‘ sends a visitor to official state websites with the first result.

KYkickass2 donuts

The team also explores new merchandising opportunities with the fresh brand messaging; a t-shirt with ‘Unbridled Spirit’ may be a tough sell, but a t-shirt emblazoned with ‘Kentucky Kicks Ass’ even appeals to disenfranchised youth, as does the team’s use of relatable figures like George Clooney and Abraham Lincoln to promote the Kentucky brand. With the use of the tagline in the merchandise, Kentucky for Kentucky makes the products (and their branding campaign) shareable. People who love and hate the messaging are more likely to share the products, and thus spread the word about the campaign, because of its controversial and polarizing word choice.

KYkickass1 chicken

Kentucky for Kentucky smartly doesn’t stray from what distinguishes Kentucky- fried chicken, horses, and bourbon are all still heavily featured in the advertisements. The difference is in how the team sells these factors, keenly aware of the power of popular sentiment in messaging. The campaign may not have staying power- and has little chance of ever being approved as the ‘official’ state tagline, but it does raise questions about how to define a branding ‘best practice.’

Regardless, the campaign is bringing more attention to Kentucky- and isn’t that the point of a branding campaign?

Watch the introductory video for ‘Kentucky Kicks Ass’ below. Would you visit the re-branded Kentucky?

Kentucky For Kentucky

Advertising
Trending

Brand Engagement At The Gates Of The World's Largest Open-Air Gallery

Culture
Fashion Today

Handbags Crafted From An Old NFL Stadium

People for Urban Progress is an up-cycling program that tackles the waste problem of big demolitions

Work Today

Tech Job Site Created Just For Those Who Are Older Than 30

A new occupational job board presents a creative solution to age discrimination in the tech world

Trending

Get PSFK's Related Report: Future of Automotive

See All
Europe Today

Architect Turns A Giant Smile Into A Public Exhibition

The structure offers visitors a new perspective of London and creates an immersive environment that integrates structure, surface, space and light

Children Today

Norwegian Kids Are Using Their Phones To Log Unsafe Street Conditions

Travel Agent is an app that gamifies the reporting of hazardous conditions to improve the safety of children's commute to school

Related Expert

Lucas Neumann

Fututre of Work, Work & Business, Design

Travel Today

Google Wants To Help You Plan Your Next Trip

A new app curates vacation itineraries and organizes reservation emails to take the work out of planning a getaway

Technology Today

Small Handheld Analyzer Checks Oral Hygiene On The Go

The breath-detecting gadget gives people a quick and easy peek into their dental health

Asia Yesterday

Safe Drivers Rewarded In Japan With Free Coffee

Driving Barista is a new app that encourages Japanese motorists to put their phones down as they drive

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Automotive
Scenarios Driving The Digital Transformation Of An Industry
NEW

PSFK Op-Ed september 27, 2016

Modern Workplace Culture: No More Fat Cats Or Kissing Ass

Samar Birwadker, CEO & Co-Founder of Good & Co, on designing shared organizational values to optimize employee happiness and success

PSFK Labs Today

The 10 Steps To Discover, Hire, Develop Your Next Leader

PSFK's Future of Work report outlines key steps in the employee development path to empower next-gen leaders

Arts & Culture Yesterday

Michael Kors Has Designed Their Own Instant Camera

In a partnership with Fuji, the limited edition Instax Mini 70 comes in an exclusive metallic gold color

Health Yesterday

Manage Your Emotional Health Through Your Phone

Pharmaceutical company Pfizer has created a new iOS app meant to help patients track mental progress and set goals

Food Yesterday

Delete Food Pics Off Of Instagram To Feed The Hungry

Land O'Lakes and Feeding America are donating meals for every picture of a meal taken off of the social platform

Design & Architecture Yesterday

This Shape-Shifting Pod Could Be The Future Of The Cubicle

MIT and Google have designed a new form of work enclosure meant to offer privacy in open-office layouts

Advertising Yesterday

Billboard Spies On People As They Walk By

To promote the movie "Snowden," the advertisement broadcasts information on passersby without their knowledge

PSFK LABS REPORT

Future Of Work
Cultivating The Next Generation Of Leaders
NEW

Fashion Yesterday

Anti-Pollution Scarf Helps Cyclists Ride Through Cities

An innovative system filters pollutants and its accompanying app monitors quality of the air

Automotive Yesterday

Volvo’s Self-Driving Trucks Will Soon Be Put To Work In An Underground Mine

The fully-automated vehicles are part of a development project to help improve safety for workers

Op-Ed Yesterday

Energy Expert: How American Consumers Are Taking Control Of Their Power Use

Jennifer Tuohy, green tech expert at The Home Depot, discusses green home technologies and developments for renewable technologies in US homes

No search results found.