I watched the commercials and the two-minute video of the new "Connecticut: Still Revolutionary" campaign. I am of the mind that Chowder Inc., the New York marketing firm that produced the ads, makes Connecticut look boring.
There is so much more to do every week of the year than visit Gillette Castle, Mystic Seaport, Mystic Aquarium, the Essex Steam Train, Goodspeed Opera House, the Rocky Hill Ferry, the Connecticut Science Center or the casinos.
The Chowder Inc. people who created these ads must not have had their feet on the ground here and experienced what Connecticut has to offer every week. That's what people in other states have to see — what's in it for them if they come to Connecticut when they are alone, with their family or just with someone special.
Since Chowder Inc. went to the expense of using a helicopter, it could have done so much better. No royalties needed to be paid to "actors" for aerial photography. So where are the crowds of people that communicate energy, excitement and most important that "you too can have fun here?"
When I want to know what's happening, I check the Advocate and daily newspaper calendar/weekend sections. Anyone working at an ad agency, me included, who enjoys what's happening around the state as much as I do, knows Chowder Inc. should have collected a 12-month supply of these sections for ideas, and maybe gone to a few of the events themselves.
Big crowd shots with the events going on at Rentschler Field, Yale Bowl, Connecticut Tennis Center, the Travelers Championship and the XL Center, home to University of Connecticut basketball, are just a few things seen on national TV.
More than 200 times a year, from April through August, there are minor league baseball stadiums to visit for a game. Almost every Thursday through Sunday from mid-August into October, "fair season" is in full swing. You can go to your favorites almost every week.
Local festivals such as the Litchfield Jazz Festival, Hartford's Riverfest Fourth of July and New London's Sailfest attract tens of thousands annually to their events. Free concerts can be found in parks throughout the state during the warm weather months almost every day of the week. Bigger venues such as those in Hartford's North Meadows and Wallingford host national touring acts attracting up to 25,000 paying customers.
We have important theaters and museums throughout the state in beautiful historic buildings and settings that are worth visiting at least a few times a year.
Connecticut is educationally rich with colleges and universities. On-campus events are open to the public. We're famous for our "leaf-peeping" season and beautiful country inns. Auto racing is not limited to the bucolic Limerock Raceway, which is a regional gem.
On opening day of fishing season some sections of our rivers and streams are shoulder to shoulder with fishermen trying to find the perfect spot. When the weather turns warm our waterways fill up with sailboats, motorboats, kayaks, canoes and tubes.
Some of our restaurants are the best that can be found anywhere, many overlooking beautiful lakes, rivers and streams. A hike up Talcott Mountain often rewards the visitor with views of hang gliders and balloonists.
Getting here is easy, too. Regional and wide-body jets land at Bradley all day long, seven days a week, cruise ships make a stop in New London and Amtrak's Acela Express (America's only high-speed train) stops within one hour of every spot in the state. Getting around is easy, too. Every town is less than two hours away from any of our borders.
Residents know there is always something fun for everyone to do in Connecticut. Chowder Inc. should have communicated that point much better than it did. The state Department of Economic and Community Development, which is spearheading this project, should re-evaluate the commercials and ads before most of the $27 million is spent to air the campaign.
Mark Merrill owns a direct mail company in Manchester.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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