How does one go about rebranding an entire state?
South Dakota (specifically, its Governor’s Office of Economic Development) recently asked itself that question and, with the help of local agency Lawrence & Shiller, came up with an answer: you can live there. As in, it is a place containing the essential elements that human beings need to survive.
When conducting research the agency found — according to the Argus Leader — that most residents of surrounding states described South Dakota as a place that supports “the lifestyle of reading books and collecting stamps.”
In other words, boring. So L&S came up with a hook: South Dakota isn’t Mars. Here’s their first ad, which debuted last Friday:
Seems out-of-staters weren’t drawn in by the “no income tax” line, so, as Commissioner Pat Costello put it:
“We think the Mars thing is right now. Once this runs its course, we’ll hitch our message to the next wagon.”
The second ad in the series is a bit more straightforward as one “Kyle” reviews the things he discovered in South Dakota:
Costello explains how the concept won approval:
“Older people thought we were crazy, and finally the governor said, ‘OK, who here in this room has heard of this colonizing of Mars?’ It was a stark contrast. Half the room raised their hands, and those people were 35 and under. That’s the effect. We want to go after those 25- to 40-year-olds and that’s where this hook works.”
Blame Elon Musk, then.