When the new Discover America campaign launched yesterday, it unveiled the “Land of Dreams,” video, written and performed by none other than Johnny Cash's daughter, Roseanne, that will, at least initially, act as its crown jewel.
But when I watched it, I can’t say that I was moved in the right way. Admittedly, my first thought was, “Really? A $12.5 million campaign and this is what we come up with?” I don’t know whether it was the twang of not-quite-country music, the (too) carefully crafted iconic images—cowboys, jazz, laughing friends, lovers and families—or the total absurdity of the meticulously staged “diversity.” (Come on, we have more states that allow first cousins to marry than homosexual couples, and yet we advertise the U.S. with an image of two men cozying up in a streetcar?)
Not to mention, the video lingers for far too long on Roseanne’s singing face (I assume it’s supposed to look heartfelt and patriotic, not…a little liquored up).
Will the campaign actually reel visitors in? Who knows. Maybe what looks trite to a born-and-bred American looks daring and exciting to someone from across the globe. Or maybe—the other distinct possibility—it’s just hard for countries to create really good tourism campaigns. From what I can tell, most involve either catchy, overly-patriotic/campy songs (ahem, America and Australia) or an awkward attempt to inspire (here's looking at you, Britain).