Whitmer Calls on Governor to Answer Public on Offensive “Pure Michigan” Advertisement
Advertising Experts Warn Governor Could Seriously Damage State's Image
Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer called on Governor Rick Snyder today to come clean to the people of Michigan on why the state’s “Pure Michigan” campaign is being improperly used to advance his own political agenda. Outrage grew across Michigan yesterday after it was discovered that the Michigan Economic Development Corporation had taken out a full page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal that included the state’s award-winning Pure Michigan slogan to tout the Governor’s “Right to Work” agenda. Pure Michigan was created in 2006 as a successful tool to promote tourism throughout the state.
“Pure Michigan has always been about uniting our state around what makes us great: our natural resources, our communities and our people. It’s simply offensive that Governor Snyder would corrupt that message and use it to advance his own political agenda,” said Whitmer. “I’m calling on the Governor today to answer to the people of Michigan who have overwhelmingly expressed their disapproval with what he’s done to the Pure Michigan campaign.”
Whitmer called on Governor Snyder to explain how much state money was spent on the full page advertisement in the Wall Street Journal, when the advertisement was approved, who it was approved by and whether there are plans already in place to spend further state resources on additional politically motivated advertisements using the Pure Michigan brand.
MSU Advertising & Public Relations Professor Richard Cole joined Senator Whitmer in calling on Governor Snyder to stop using the Pure Michigan brand for purposes outside of promoting the state’s tourism.
“Pure Michigan has been a successful campaign in large part due to its focus on the things we can all agree are positive about Michigan and our communities,” said Professor Cole. “To tie the Pure Michigan campaign into an issue as politically charged as Right to Work introduces an unprecedented level of politics into a campaign that could jeopardize its support of all Michigan residents.”
Professor Cole was joined in his comments by Robert Kolt, a 20 year instructor in the Advertising and Public Relations department in the College of Communication Arts and Sciences at Michigan State University, and president/CEO of Kolt Communications, Inc., an advertising/public relations firm in Okemos.
“Based on my extensive experience and in my professional opinion, linking Pure Michigan’s paid advertising to an issue as politically sensitive as Right to Work is actually insulting to many people and simply an error in judgment,” said Professor Kolt. “This new ad focus is a dramatic change in promotional strategy for Michigan that could seriously backfire, resulting in damage to the positive brand image and value of our state’s business climate, especially our successful tourism industry.”
Whitmer added that as the state’s Chief Executive, it’s the Governor’s responsibility to ensure MEDC is using the state’s resources responsibly.
“The MEDC answers to the people of Michigan and to the Governor, so Governor Snyder cannot shirk his responsibility in this matter,” added Whitmer. “This advertisement isn’t about Pure Michigan, it’s about Snyder’s Michigan and the hardworking people of our state deserve far better than that.”