Peer Review: Grinning Formula


Maybe I really need a vacation. Or maybe it's the weeks of subfreezing temperatures most of us who don't live in Orlando, Fla., have been suffering through. Who knows why, but I was really looking forward to downloading and tearing open the new campaign for the Orlando Convention and Visitors Bureau.

I was like a kid going to Disney World for the first time; excited to get my first look at work that had to be great. I couldn't wait to see how they would capture the excitement of seeing Mickey with the kids, playing golf on the country's most verdant courses, lounging by the hotel pool while the rest of America freezes-and doing it all in the company of ones you love. Sigh.

And the first ad (the creative comes from Orlando-based agency Push) looked like they might be on to something. A big shot of two parents cheek-kissing a giddy toddler seemed to capture pure childhood joy and the parental bliss that goes along with making your kid that freakin' happy.

Admittedly, I thought that the headline "Orlando Makes Me Smile" was a bit generic, but, hey, maybe the next one would be better. I didn't much notice or need the diagram-style pointers on either side of the baby's grin, labeling one dimple "mom" and the other "dad." Instead, I simply opened the rest of the campaign.

And it was all downhill from there. I'm really bummed about it, too, because the last thing I set out to be here is the guy who has a problem with a campaign about going on the vacation of a lifetime.

But here goes...

First, about that headline? It wasn't one. It was a tagline. "Orlando Makes Me Smile" was attached to every shot-every generic shot of everyone wearing that smile. Or, in some cases, they were frowning and then smiling. The smile appeared on the outdoor ads, on the banner ads and in the print ads. (Admittedly, one of the Web pieces featured Shamu, who didn't appear to be smiling, but the woman in the pool with him was.) The close-up baby shot was magic; not so the rest of them.

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