New Orleans has pulled a tourism ad paid for by BP after negative press in England spurred trip cancellations. The ad, headlined ‘This isn’t the first time New Orleans has survived the British,’ was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, but English newspapers including the Guardian saw only the cheek.
New Orleans received a $5 million cheque from BP to help compensate for tourism damage from the BP/Trans Ocean oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The ad they created was intended to be one of a series of television and newspaper promotions. The headline was set against a statue of General Andrew Jackson, who repelled a British assault on New Orleans during the War of 1812. There was some indication that tourism officials knew the words would be controversial, as smaller print in the ad read: "Right now everyone is welcome, especially our friends from England".
While the ad wasn’t aimed at the English market, it’s tough to keep secrets in a wired world. The Guardian picked up a post from blogofneworleans.com, ran with it, and the New Orleans CVB’s London office started getting cancellations.
New Orleans CVB President Steve Perry was dismayed with the newspaper’s response, writing to the Guardian: ”Your caustic and inaccurate characterisation of our actual intent and affection for the U.K. has further contributed to our burden and was hard-hearted and shocking.”
With the story now being seen around the world, New Orleans has clearly got its money worth, if offending some English in the process.
Without wishing to add to the controversy, there is one question that needs to be asked from a Canadian perspective: The Americans don’t actually think they won the War of 1812 do they?