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Kentucky Kicks Ass: Tourism Department issues tone-deaf response to USA Today article

by Melissa Chipman

We here at Insider Louisville – at least those of us who “live” in the Insider Louisville World Headquarters on a day-to-day basis – are unabashed fans of the “Kentucky Kicks Ass” rebranding movement launched by Kentucky for Kentucky earlier this month.

Have you seen the video? More than 38,000 people have. If you haven’t seen the video, watch it below now. Trust us. It kicks ass.

Unfortunately, the Kentucky Tourism Department didn’t see this as an opportunity to spin the Kick Ass movement into something fun and funky; instead they’ve decided that it’s something they have to denounce.

Patrick Stipes (mistakenly called “Pat Sipes” in the article), spokesman for State Department of Tourism told USA Today:

We certainly would not sanction or endorse that phraseology … These guys are Kentucky natives and they love the state. But they have a different constituency. Which is no one.

USA Today is, of course, a national stage … albeit a rickety one. What an awesome opportunity for the Commonwealth to showcase our sense of humor, our love of quirk, our eccentricity and our edge.

Not only did the Tourism Department blow the opportunity, but the “constituency of no one” jab is a juvenile response to something that is clearly (a) all in good fun, (b) created by cheerleaders for the Commonwealth and (c) gaining quite a bit of traction and praise and popularity.

It’s the schoolyard fight with the kid whose “best” insult is: “No one likes you.”

And it’s not true.

Plenty of people like it. As we mentioned, the video has already had more than 38K views. Kentucky for Kentucky has more than 9,000 “likes” on its Facebook page. Within a few hours of posting the USA Today article, the post had received hundreds of likes and more than 30 comments.

Comments like:

Kelly Keane Jones: Wish KY officials would have chosen a more light hearted response. How could a positive enthusiasm and state pride be a bad thing? Already, KY is gaining some free press off this. Ride the wave… 

Leonard Lawson IIISomething you hear, among a varying age of folks “This -blank- kicks ass!” Something you don’t hear, among any age of folks “This -blank- certainly has unbridled spirit!”

Kenneth Rambo: [Stites's] quote “constituency of no one” is a bold statement given the fact K4K trails state tourism by less than 1,000 Facebook likes and has 30+ times the amount of people talking on Facebook.

At last check, the Kentucky for Kentucky Facebook page had 15,400+ people “talking about” it. Kentucky Tourism Department had less than 500.

Back in New England, we hide away our nutty relatives or pretend they’re not nutty at all. One of the many things I love about living in the grey space between the Midwest and the South is that we embrace the “characters” among us and love them for their oddballness.

Kentucky for Kentucky is your loopy uncle who has no internal editor and is slightly inappropriate almost all of the time.

But it doesn’t mean he’s wrong. And it doesn’t mean he’s not fun.

And it doesn’t mean we don’t love him.

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  • Stephen Coomes

    Great story and video. Without naming names, I can attest personally to the lame work of a key official in our tourism department. I met with said person during a sizeable tradeshow some months ago and found said person the worst of any state rep I met with. Totally clueless with story ideas and unprepared to answer my questions. Clearly said person never looks outside the office window for ideas for journalists.

  • Stephen Coomes

    Great story and video. Without naming names, I can attest personally to the lame work of a key official in our tourism department. I met with said person during a sizeable tradeshow some months ago and found said person the worst of any state rep I met with. Totally clueless with story ideas and unprepared to answer my questions. Clearly said person never looks outside the office window for ideas for journalists.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zak.crouch Zak Crouch

    I am a No One. Kentucky Kicks Ass.

  • http://www.facebook.com/zak.crouch Zak Crouch

    I am a No One. Kentucky Kicks Ass.

  • http://twitter.com/Lewis502 Lewis Bertolucci

    -Kentucky Tourism YouTube established in 2009, has 45 videos and 64,900 views.
    -Kentucky for Kentucky YouTube established 9/2011, has 3 videos and 45,500 views.

    Kentucky Kicks Ass > Kentucky Tourism.

    Disappointed in the cheap-shot comment from KY Tourism… these guys (KY for KY) are some of our states biggest advocates with a sense of viral marketing. KY Tourism should have tried to enlist their help, not alienate them.

  • http://Lewisbertolucci.com/ Lewis B

    -Kentucky Tourism YouTube established in 2009, has 45 videos and 64,900 views.
    -Kentucky for Kentucky YouTube established 9/2011, has 3 videos and 45,500 views.

    Kentucky Kicks Ass > Kentucky Tourism.

    Disappointed in the cheap-shot comment from KY Tourism… these guys (KY for KY) are some of our states biggest advocates with a sense of viral marketing. KY Tourism should have tried to enlist their help, not alienate them.

  • Kate_Sedgwick

    Maybe what you say is true, but I wonder about the absence of minorities on the ad and whether they’re not there because Kentucky kicked their asses.

  • Kate_Sedgwick

    Maybe what you say is true, but I wonder about the absence of minorities on the ad and whether they’re not there because Kentucky kicked their asses.

  • ShabamNuggets

    Good concept but horrible execution… Love all the thought/research/passion that KY4KY put into developing the slogan but ‘kentucky kicks ass’ is so generic/unimaginative/not creative that I’m embarrassed that this was the result of their work. Let’s be serious, the video is interesting and the design is well done, but “we kick ass” would be a horrible slogan

  • ShabamNuggets

    Good concept but horrible execution… Love all the thought/research/passion that KY4KY put into developing the slogan but ‘kentucky kicks ass’ is so generic/unimaginative/not creative that I’m embarrassed that this was the result of their work. Let’s be serious, the video is interesting and the design is well done, but “we kick ass” would be a horrible slogan

  • http://twitter.com/loueyville Loueyville

    Very, very good point.

  • Loueyville

    Very, very good point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Ohmygodsquad Jacob P-Funk Hill

    No one cares about unbridled spirit. It was a waste of money. You can’t see the people for the stupid horses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Ohmygodsquad Jacob P-Funk Hill

    No one cares about unbridled spirit. It was a waste of money. You can’t see the people for the stupid horses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jack-Getze/1246127521 Jack Getze

    Kentucky Has Always Kicked Ass

  • Jack

    Kentucky Has Always Kicked Ass

  • http://twitter.com/loueyville Loueyville

    And so do you, Jack!

  • Loueyville

    And so do you, Jack!

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  • miles stadard

    if you can straight-facedly tell me that we couldn’t find an equally punchy, and yet, classy slogan, i will sit down.

  • miles stadard

    if you can straight-facedly tell me that we couldn’t find an equally punchy, and yet, classy slogan, i will sit down.

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