Saturday, January 23, 2010

I was told about this by a friend at the synagogue last night:
Here's a good test of social media's muscle: The re-branding of Mardi Gras in New Orleans as family-friendly entertainment.

That's a tough brief, for sure, but it's already attracted major brand and media backing from Louisiana pantry staple Tabasco and broadcaster Belo Corp.

"We want to show people that Mardi Gras can be clean and wholesome," said Jan Carroll, Tabasco's marketing director. "It doesn't have to be 'Girls Gone Wild.'"

To most of the country, of course, it is -- a vision of frat boys and party girls pouring into the French Quarter for a bacchanalia of booze, bare breasts and beads. Programs such as "Girls Gone Wild" and "Cops" have reinforced the image.

And that's long frustrated Tom Martin, president of local marketing firm Zehnder Communications (and a contributor to Ad Age's Small Agency Diary), who, like a lot of New Orleans residents, says the event ought to be better known for cultural and culinary aspects than for its debauchery. "As long as I've lived here, I've listened to people bitch and moan about how people around the country just don't get it," said the Texas-bred adman. "If you're going to whine, do something about it or shut up."

What he's doing? The family-friendly My Mardi Gras Experience, which won't begin its posts from bloggers showing what a great experience it is for people of ALL ages until February 1st.

Take that, Jefferson Parish and Baton Rouge! least, until the first posts begin popping up. Jury's out on how well they'll be written or received.

'Til then, I offer you my humble postings on past Mardi Gras celebrations with MY family.

And this doesn't even go into Homan's posts on Barkus, whose participation includes ALL of his family and close friends. If you have any other "family-friendly" reminiscences of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, I invite you to share. If it gets too long for a comment, just write it out in a post and throw the link back in your comment.

"Re-branding", my tuchus. Families have ALWAYS enjoyed Mardi Gras here, and always will.


Blathering said...

My 1st niece wrote an essay in grade school (she's in college now) about how my Mom is the best person to go to parades with because she has everything: snacks, bandaids, extra bags, a flashlight, you name it. I have always loved the multi-generational block party aspect of MG where you just hang out on the street with your entire extended family.

saintseester said...

They are correct about how the rest of the country perceives Mardi Gras in New Orleans. If you could have seen the looks I got from people when they found out I was taking the kids to Mardi Gras last year.

Where ever there is fun, there is always the potential for wholesome fun and nasty fun. Do we judge the entire beach experience by what happens on MTV's spring break?

I will continue to witness for carnival.

Capt. John Swallow said...

Without families there would be no Mardi was started by families to entertain and support families.
Blaine Kern's family and their floats, generations of Spy Boys & Flambeaux, any second line parade, Goodchildren Carnival Club, genrations of Mardi Gras Indians, kids on the shoulders of fathers/uncles/mothers shouting "throw me somethin' mista!"...

Sure there are some parades/floats with more adult themes, but as me mate Capt. Bedlam says; "Yer kids won't get some of the jokes - and if they do, yer bad parents!"

Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Leigh C. said...

I must be a REALLY bad parent, then, 'cause this year, I've been taking the kid with me to help build our Krewe du Vieux subkrewe float.

Yep, now it's out. I'm gonna burn. ;-)

Cold Spaghetti said...

Amen. Re-branding only necessary for those who wouldn't get it, anyway.