Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ducey's Arizona: Jeff Spicoli and The Lego Movie meet The Stones meet Mark 16:15

Posted By on Thu, Sep 24, 2015 at 4:18 PM


Ducey's PR people were running some new slogans up the Capitol flagpole to see if anyone saluted. They were trying out phrases on one another to see if anyone got chills ("I'm getting chills!"). They were tossing tag lines around at three martini lunches, or whatever ad men and women drink at lunch these days. And then, there it was, a slogan that's totally awesome. It's so awesome, it rocks!

That's the slogan: "AZAWESOME: why arizona rocks" (with AZ in gold and AWESOME in red so people don't ask, "What's a zawesome?")

The Arizona Commerce Authority sent out an email with that embarrassingly cool-thirty-years-ago slogan under the state seal. How did they get there, I asked myself. How did they land on those words, those phrases? Let me offer a possible scenario.

"Awesome" reached its pinnacle of teenage usage in the 80s, around the time Ducey was in his middle to late teenage years. Think surfer dude Jeff Spicoli in the 1982 film, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, exclaiming, "Totally Awesome!" It has that "Makes me feel young and cool again" ring to the 40-to-50 year old set. And if any of them have young kids around the house, they probably know the catchy, child-friendly tune, "Everything is Awesome!!!" from The Lego Movie ("Everything is awesome/Everything is cool when you're part of a team/Everything is awesome when we're living our dream"). How can you beat that? You're a cool dude, you're a cool parent. It's edgy, it's family friendly. It's AWESOME!

So that's the word-phrase they chose to brand Arizona: AZ-AWESOME. When it started to come together, when they were batting it around to see if they hit it out of the park, I imagine someone gushed, "A. Z. Awesome. I'm getting chills! That rocks!" "Even better!" someone else exclaimed. "Arizona is not only awesome. It rocks!" [Fun fact: Ducey called The Stones one of his favorite bands in a tweet (His fave 60s Stones song: Jumpin' Jack Flash).] And so a "We're still cool even though we're middle-aged PR people and a governor" slogan is born.

Where does Mark 16:15, which I mentioned in the headline, come in?

The email from the Arizona Commerce Authority tells its readers to spread the word about how awesome Arizona is. But how to say it? Spread the word. Hmm, let's see. We can do better than that. Spread the word. Spread the good word. Spread the good news. The Good News! That's it! And, not Spread. SHARE!"
I encourage you to SHARE the good news with your friends, so they know what makes Arizona awesome too! "
And with that phrase, they move from the profane — teenage slang, rock 'n' roll — to the sacred, bordering on sacrilegious.The Gospel According to Ducey and his PR team.

They're referencing Mark 16:15.  In the King James version, Jesus told his disciples, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." "Gospel" can be translated as "Good News," which is the way the passage is rendered in one modern translation: "Go out into the world and share the good news with all of creation."

Google "Share the Good News." You'll get thousands of hits from Christian websites.

And so, a slogan and a PR campaign are born: Jeff Spicoli and The Lego Movie meet The Stones meet Mark 16:15.

When asked if "AZ-Awesome: why arizona rocks" is the state's branding effort, Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato replied that it's not, it's “just an email from us to highlight good news for the state.” So we can look forward to more branding, more sloganing, more logo-ing. AWESOME!

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