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If you don’t live in Arkansas (and there’s a good chance you don’t) you’re missing the fun of Arkansas advertising.  Today in my fair city of Little Rock I was listening to a local radio station and the spokesman for a Chevrolet dealership pitched the Impala as “the car for the man who’s not trying to impress anybody.”

I doubt that’s what the folks in Detroit had in mind for copy, but you have to admit it’s unique. Not unique in the way Rosser Reeves intended for a USP.  I’d bet nobody else positions it the way we do in Arkansas.  The 2014 Impala. Shown here in Razorback Red.

The 2014 Chevy Impala. It's nothing special, and that's what's special about it.

The 2014 Chevy Impala. It’s nothing special, and that’s what’s special about it.

 

I feel like the kid who just found out about Santa Claus, or, in keeping with the season, the Easter Bunny.  My illusion has just been shattered.

Ozarka® water is not made in Arkansas.

I just assumed it was.  But what do I know, I live in Arkansas.  Nonetheless, I was just being logical, or intuitive, at least.  “OZARKA” sounds like it’s from around here, our “Natural State” of hot springs and rolling hills and trout fishing.  And the Ozark Mountains.

2014-04-15 Ozarka 2

Ozarka’s packaging boasts it’s made in Texas.  Texas?  Texas water?  Is that supposed to be good? I grew up in Houston.  I think the tap water in Little Rock tastes better. And there’s no such place as Hot Springs National Park, Texas.

Pull back  the curtain, Toto.  Egad, the Wizard of Ozarka is just one of many brands pumped out by Nestlé Waters North America.  Thus we have an Arkansas-sounding label coming from the Texas operations of a North American company based in Switzerland. Yodelayheehoo.

2014-04-15 Ozarka 1

Oh well, it’s just water, the commodity that’s increasingly never common.  Last time I checked, a liter of Evian was selling for $1.99 at the local Kroger.  A liter of Kroger’s store-brand water was 69 cents.  That’s a 188% premium for Evian. Some people take this brand thing way too seriously.  And the marketers smile.

Today is College Colors Day.   http://www.collegecolorsday.com/   It looks like an event cooked up to sell more NCAA-licensed merchandise.  An incremental lift in t-shirt sales on this first weekend of college football.  Group shots of people wearing the names of their schools in the workplace are scattered across social media.  Lots of “my school can beat up your school” Friday chatter.

People like to affiliate, to belong to something, to join a brand. Around the world, we cluster around professional sports teams, especially soccer clubs.  Here in America we are blessed with the bigness of collegiate sports AND our pro leagues.  And here in Middle America – the towns and states without major league franchises – big college brands fill a void.

USC Trojans v Arkansas RazorbacksSome schools own their territory.  Others, not so much.  I live in Arkansas.  And here in Arkansas, the school that calls itself “Arkansas” is not just the flagship university of our state.  It’s our state’s brand. The red Razorback is worn proudly by the masses: people who went to the University of Arkansas, people who went somewhere else, and people who never went to college at all. We have other great schools here in the Natural State:  Hendrix College, Arkansas State and Arkansas Tech, to name a few.  But nobody sports those schools’ colors unless, at some point, they really went to college there.

Affiliation with a college team is easy.  Nobody asks to see your diploma.  There’s an old saying in Texas:  “Somebody who wears a Texas A&M shirt went to A&M.  Somebody who wears a Texas Longhorns shirt went to Walmart.”  I said that was an old saying.  The recent success of A&M and the phenomenon known as Johnny Football have turned the tables in the Lone Star State.  Now being an Aggie is cool, even if you aren’t really an Aggie.

As for me, even though I walk through the valley of cardinal-clad “Hogs” fans, my colors today are purple and gold for LSU, with a touch of red and blue for SMU. Because I actually went to school at those places.  Imagine that.
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