Welcome to Missouri, the only state in the country on Fodor’s Do Not Travel list

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Fodor's has the entire state of Missouri on its No List for 2018. I completely disagree.

Fodor’s has the entire state of Missouri on its No List for 2018. I completely disagree.

I never realized what a dangerous, backward, unfriendly state I live in. But there it was, on the inside pages of yesterday’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch, stating that Fodor’s, the internationally-recognized travel advisory company had listed Missouri as the only state in the USA to make Fodor’s No LIst 2018.

That certainly makes the job for Hoffman Lewis, who I believe still handles the advertising for the great state of Missouri, more formidable.

The article struck me as hard to believe and somewhat akin to a bunch of blind men describing an elephant. Depending upon where you stand, your view can be radically altered.

I’ve been to about 40 of our 50 states. Yet I am certainly not qualified to blacklist an entire state based on some limited opinions and generalities. According to Fodor’s, here’s why they recommend that no visitor should set foot in the state of Missouri:

“Missouri is the place where SB 43 was passed making it more difficult to sue employers for discrimination, a state representative argued that homosexuals weren’t human beings, a tourist who got lost and ran out of gas was later found murdered in his jail cell without ever being put under arrest, and two men were hunted down and shot on suspicion of being Muslim on the outskirts of Kansas City. And that’s just in 2017.

Those are just a few of the startling headlines from the state that prompted the Missouri chapter of the NAACP to advise tourists to skip this state and the “looming danger” for visitors when they’re touring United States.

Missouri has “a separate standard of laws that are only applicable to some people,” Nimrod Chapel, Jr., head of the Missouri chapter of the NAACP, told Fodor’s. He includes people of color, women, the disabled, senior citizens, foreigners, and people of faith as among those who are discriminated against.

He further cautions against the manner in which these laws are policed in the state. “Not everyone dies after an encounter with law enforcement, and we wouldn’t suggest that. But there [are] so many negative outcomes that would indicate that there’s some bias in the way that their laws are enforced that we think that people have to be aware of the danger and, you know, decide for themselves.”

Thanks a lot Fodor’s.

Based on the opinion of some Nimrod, they’re now saying that anyone who happens to be a person of color (not specified what color), a female, someone who’s disabled, a senior citizen, foreigner or a person who believes in any type of religion, you best stay away from the Show Me state.

If you just so happen to be a 65+, disabled, African nun from the Republic of Ghana, well, you may never get out of here alive according to Fodor’s.

C’mon, Fodor’s. You owe the great state of Missouri and all the people who are working hard to overcome all of the negatives that have been hurled at this state in the past few years a major apology.

The metro St. Louis area has more than its share of problems. Yes, there still is a racial divide here, just as there is a serious economic divide. But there are so many good things happening as well and those items just don’t get the news time they deserve.

The murder they reference in Kansas City actually took place in Kansas. And from everything I’ve heard, Kansas City has made dramatic strides as a community that’s not only a great place to live, it’s a great place to visit.

Having an entire state on a travel company’s No List is a farce. They don’t know what it’s like to enjoy a weekend in the Ozarks and probably don’t even know where it is.

Personally, I’m contacting Fodor’s to let them know of my disgust. They have a Forum and I intend to register and post my opinion. And I will never be purchasing any travel-related guides that bear their name again.

And if, by chance, you were planning on a trip to the Taj Mahal or Everest this year, Fodor’s recommends against it – but with a little more actual reasons since the Taj Mahal is being completely re-furbished and most of it is under wraps while with Everest, their reason for not going is simply that too many people die on their quest. Especially if they’re a 65+, African nun from the Republic of Ghana.

That’s what I think, how about you?

In addition to providing advertising and marketing communications services by day via BloodLines Creative, Tom sometimes writes about what interests him, especially when it comes to all things St. Louis. He is also dedicated to becoming a better surrealist painter, trying to paint the impossible. He invites you to visit his work at his Pixels website, or via his BloodLines Art website. His work can also be viewed on Pinterest, Saatchi Art and on the mobile app, Art Loupe.

Waking up to Missouri

It’s been many years since I worked on the Missouri Division of Tourism account, going back to my days at Kenrick Advertising.

Back then, the overall theme we developed for the state’s advertising and marketing efforts was “Wake up to Missouri.”

Our goal was simple. Get people (primarily families) both in-state and out-of-state to wake up to the wide variety of things to do here in the Show Me State. And there really is a lot to do. It’s just that after living here for a while, many of us have a tendency to take it all for granted. Wake up, people – that’s what we wanted them to do.

Over the past few days, we did a little of our own waking up to Missouri at the Lake of the Ozarks as various family members experienced the following …

There was a helicopter ride, gliding over the Lake and Bagnell Dam. A visit to Bridal Cave which both surprised and delighted. An early morning wave runner ride at the base of the dam. Golf at Porto Cima, one of the finest courses I’ve ever played. We had two sunset dinners overlooking the lake, bought a few silly souvenirs and spent a fair amount of time just chilling poolside.

All in all, it was time well spent and enjoyed by all of us.

So that got me to thinking about Missouri’s current advertising and marketing efforts.

I remember how disappointed I was when our state adopted the theme line of, “Where the rivers run.”

Oh, I get it. There’s all kinds of river activity here in the great state of Missouri. But it seemed to totally neglect the three biggest tourism factors the state had going for it – St. Louis, Kansas City and the Lake of the Ozarks. Toss in Branson down in Ozark Mountain Country and you’ve got four major tourism draws that though there may be a river nearby, really aren’t focused around river activity.

The theme for Missouri these days is, “Enjoy the show.” My first impression was, “Huh?” But then, after a little more investigation, I see that Hoffman Lewis is back to following the same strategy we employed – only instead of waking people up to the wonders of the state, they’re playing off of the Show Me State nickname – and it’s true, Missouri does put on a variety of enjoyable shows. And not necessarily the theatrical kind.

After viewing some of the ‘enjoy the show’ TV commercials and print ads (http://www.visitmo.com/backstage) I think the overall effort is strong. The writing is a series of play-on-words (something that I’ve always enjoyed – both creating and viewing). The art direction of the print ads is simple and clean. The photography is very well done. The outdoor boards don’t do much for me but I won’t hold that against them. And the end logo treatment is contemporary, fresh and somehow fitting (good job by Rukus – the post production facility).

Overall, I think the folks at Hoffman Lewis have a good thing going.

There’s still plenty of summer left to get out and enjoy all that Missouri has to offer. And I’m sure that future advertising efforts will assure us that even though summer’s about to come to a close, the show will go on.

And whether you Wake Up to Missouri or Enjoy the Show, the urge to action is pretty much the same.

Wake up and enjoy it.