A Majority of One
Posted on 11/25/2022 Evan Swensen
Several years ago, I wrote an editorial taking the Anchorage Convention and Visitors Bureau to task for what I thought was misleading advertising. Their ads, placed in national publications, gave readers the impression they could fish for king salmon in downtown Anchorage, view eagles and caribou from their hotel room window, walk to a glacier on the way to the restaurant, and Mt. McKinley was an Anchorage landmark.
Some of those engaged in the visitor and tourist industry challenged me for discouraging the
Bureau. They pointed out the ad campaign had won awards in the advertising community and was good for business. In their minds, it justified the lie if it was good business and worthy of artistic awards. I received very strong letters from some leaders in the industry. Some even canceled their advertising contract with Alaska Outdoors magazine.
However, the following year the Bureau’s advertising thrust was cleaned up and took a more honest approach. They developed the theme of “in town, around town, and out of town,” which more truthfully portrayed the location of attractions. The resulting advertising was superior to the former and did not burden the local service provider with the responsibility of defending an ill-conceived promotion program.
The following year the very ones who were most vocal in defending the misleading ad campaign withdrew their membership from the Bureau and called for the resignation of its president.
The president withdrew, and the organization is doing a reliable, honest, honorable, and aggressive job promoting Anchorage. As a result, more and more visitors and conventions are coming to the city. They come with realistic expectations of what is here and go away happy.
Since its conception, the State of Alaska Division of Tourism has spent advertising dollars supporting non-Alaskans. Their advertising has been centered on activities and aimed at a population segment supporting firms whose home offices are outside the State. Like the ad with the scantly clad young lady posing on a Denali glacier, some of their ads have been misleading, some even dishonest. I took exception to this in an editorial and again suffered heat and lost revenues from those who saw no wrong in spending state money at the expense of its citizenry. Now times have changed. New leadership is in the department. The tax base is shifting. State revenues are down, and politicians are calling it hard times. Those signing the check are beginning to realize they can let the non-Alaskans support their own advertising, and it is in everyone’s best interest to develop programs helping hometown businesses.
I don’t claim responsibility for the positive corrections made by these two organizations, but I’m sure I did exercise some influence. I am only one small voice, but I was a voice on the right. Our right voice mingled with other right voices, and changes were and are being made.
You are a majority of one.
Your voice is right. As you read this, pick up a pen and paper and write the letter you have been putting off. You can help effect a positive change by adding your voice to other right voices. Do it now!