Clearwater Record-Ewing News

Honestly, it’s clever.

Despite what late night talk show host Stephen Colbert thinks.

When Nebraska’s Tourism Commission announced its latest marketing campaign Oct. 17, they hedged bets that potential visitors wanted an honest assessment of what’s good about the state.

Something showcasing the best of Nebraska nice.

Something incorporating a touch of reverse psychology.

Something, well, honest, like the people who call this unique state home.

Colbert jabbed Nebraska in a monologue just one day after the new campaign launched, noting it’s tough to attract visitors here, but credited the commission for “thinking outside the box.”

The slogan, “Honestly, it’s not for everyone,” might be a tad bit truthful, according to the late night host.

So, you’re saying there isn’t a chance you’ll visit, Colbert?

I wonder if the comedian has planted foot in Nebraska or if he considers our wide open prairies and thriving urban areas simply flyover country.

Can he - and others - differentiate landscape when pivot circles segue into sandhills or track the changes in ecosystems along the Platte’s jagged path traversing the state’s midsection?

Lucky for Colbert and others, there’s nothing to do here.

Like float down the Cedar or Niobrara rivers in a cattle tank, soaking up rays and drinking a few cold brews.

Lucky for us, we Nebraskans spend another day on the dusty plains … or wade across the mouth of Smith Falls … or venture inside an Amazon rain forest at Henry Doorly Zoo.

Beats fighting traffic in the Big Apple any day.

Lucky for us, Colbert, and perhaps many Americans, think the state’s landscape is one-dimensional. Flat. Boring.

Guessing Colbert has never hiked the trails at Ponca State Park or followed the ruts from the Oregon Trail or hopped across land formations at Toadstool Geological Park.

“Nebraska, are you okay,” Colbert deadpans into the camera.

Let’s see. Late-season rains have slowed farmers from harvest.

Our football team is 1-6 but still draws 90,000 fans to Memorial Stadium to watch our shade of red burn brighter.

We’re fine, Colbert. Are you?

“Being honest about something bad doesn’t make it better,” Colbert adds.

Let me get this straight. Nebraska is … bad?

Maybe bad at marketing itself.

Since 2014, Nebraska has finished last on a list of states tourists are interested in visiting, according to MMGY Global, a travel marketing research firm.

Or as Colbert claims, “Branding by the firm No, S^*& & Sherlock.”

Tourism, if promoted successfully, could boost tax coffers.

In 2015, $4.9 billion was spent on tourism in the state. That generated $214 million in state and local taxes.

Considering the state’s budget woes, any attempt to boost tourism to build revenue streams is welcome.

Honestly, it’s taken the commission a long time to develop a solid focus for marketing the state. Really, after the Nebraska Nice debacle, this campaign seems a bit hip. Cool. Suave.

Honestly, the slogans are tongue-in-cheek. If we can’t laugh at ourselves …

Honestly, I want to be Colbert’s tour guide and show him true Nebraska gems.

I’m not sure if he could handle the truth.

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