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.
...at 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.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.