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Like, Really Fun

February 26, 2006
By Christine Palm, Courant Staff Writer

The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Lyndsay Stephenson, 24, is no character from Hamlet, but she is a player in the "Rising Star" marketing campaign.

"Come To Hartford. I Swear, It's Fun," she tells us in a new billboard along I-84 promoting all the city has to offer. But c'mon, Lyndsay, back off. I mean, like, omigod, we're, like, so not going there with you if you, like, act so intense.

According to some barely legible type along the bottom of the billboard, Lyndsay said this in The New York Times in January.

The Rising Star folks, quite rightly, are trying to appeal to a young crowd. Their www.hartford.com website smartly focuses on hip things to do, from Real Art Ways' Creative Cocktail Hour to the Advocate's Snow Slam band competition. It's the right idea, but the billboard is the wrong approach. There's something more than a little desperate about this tag line, which invites sarcasm: "Yeah, dude, it's fun with yer mom" (and the like).

Unlike Shakespeare's Queen Gertrude, who recognized herself in the veiled accusation of Hamlet's play-within-a-play, we in Hartford have no reason to squirm or protest. There are lots of great things to do here. So instead of sounding defensive, why not let the fun speak for itself?

Use the billboard space to tout specific cultural, sporting and nightlife events. That way, the marketing folks will show us, rather than tell us, how we can spend our free time and money.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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