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Archive for Sunday, January 9, 2005

Big image, big bucks

Kansas wants to be known as a place that can think big, but the price tag on the state’s new image campaign is raising some eyebrows.

January 9, 2005

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If Kansas wants a big image, it apparently is going to cost big dollars.

The state officially kicked off its new campaign Friday under the slogan "Kansas: As Big As You Think." Because the actual slogan had inadvertently been released earlier in the week, the big news of Friday's unveiling seemed to be the $1.7 million price tag that will go with the image campaign. State officials had said they had received $700,000 to spend on the campaign, but when the plan was rolled out Friday, it was announced that, with advertising costs, the total tab would be $1.7 million.

Wow. It's good to think big.

Some people think the slogan is catchy. It's different and carries some interesting double meanings. It's trying to portray Kansas as a place that thinks big and is open to big ideas. That's all true and it's not a bad image to sell both to outsiders and to Kansas residents themselves. It reflects our pioneer image and presents the state as a place where people with an idea can prosper.

The cost of the program is what's troubling many Kansans. So far, officials say, the funding has come from Kansas Lottery profits which are earmarked for economic development projects. But when Kansans with disabilities are on waiting lists to receive services and the state Supreme Court has ordered the state to spend who knows how much more on K-12 education, spending $1.7 million on an image campaign seems a bit questionable.

It's important to be able to sell the state to potential new businesses and residents, but attracting tourists to Kansas still seems like an extremely challenging, if not a losing, proposition. Maybe a few people will be attracted to the state's open space, but "As big as you think" probably will never trump Wyoming's "Big Sky Country." The state's biggest attraction still seems to be its quality of life, its schools, and, here's hoping, an even better business climate fostered by the state's Economic Development Act of 2004.

Just before the state's new image was introduced at several locations across the state, an event occurred in Salina that seems to capture some of the big-thinking spirit the imagemakers are trying to foster. On Thursday, adventurer Steve Fossett flew from Mojave, Calif., to Salina in the GlobalFlyer, the experimental airplane he hopes to fly solo, nonstop around the world without refueling in early February. Mission control for the 23,000-mile flight will be the Kansas State University College of Technology and Aviation in Salina.

Now, here's a guy who's thinking big -- and he chose Kansas to share in his plans. The new Kansas image campaign already features people from the state's past, including President Dwight Eisenhower and aviatrix Amelia Earhart. Maybe the state can enlist Fossett to help take that image into the future

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