Ad Linking Pure Michigan And Right to Work Hits a Nerve, Sparking Online Outcry

BildeMixing tourism and politics may not be as extreme as violating church-state separation, but it comes close for harsh critics of a full-page Michigan ad.

The economic development promotion, published Tuesday in the Wall Street Journal, cites the new right-to-work law as a reason why this has "become a preferred place to to business." A familiar two-word logo below the text -- Pure Michigan -- turns the ad into a red-hot target.

"It should have been signed by the governor and Republicans, and leave the term Pure Michigan out of it," Royal Oak dentist Bruce Donigan says on Facebook in one of more 100 critical comments at the Pure Michigan page. Others are posted with news coverage about the ad, including at Deadline Detroit's page on Facebook.     

UPDATE (3 p.m.): State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer, her chamber's Democratic leader, jumps into the fray Wednesday afternoon with a statement calling the ad "offensive" and adding: "The state's Pure Michigan campaign is being improperly used." 

At a Detroit Free Press blog, staff member Jewel Gopwani says the ad "throws salt into a pretty raw wound."

This issue has divided our state, and by connecting right-to-work to Pure Michigan, it politicizes a distinctly positive, politically neutral campaign that encourages state pride. It’s disappointing that the state decided to tie Pure Michigan to an issue that has torn Michigan apart.

That post by the assistant community engagement editor has almost 2,000 "like" clicks from Facebook users and more than 40 comments, including this from Craig Hennigan of Detroit, a 36-year-old graduate teaching assistant at Wayne State: 

Injecting divisive politics into a marketing campaign is a surefire way to move toward failure. Attaching that logo to what is perceived as a political message undermines the credibility of the brand. Poor marketing move, Snyder administration.

The ad is defended by University of Michigan graduate Joshua Raymond of Rochester Hills, a Freep reader who posts: 

Pure Michigan is an ad campaign to get people and businesses to Michigan. Whether Right to Work is lemons or lemonade, Pure Michigan's role is to present the state in a positive light by showing the positive aspects of a complicated situation. . . .

Pure Michigan will focus on the positive aspects of Right to Work to boost state jobs and not mention negative aspects. It is an ad campaign. 

Pure Mich Ad TweetAt Twitter, Matthew Lechel, a 28-year-old Kalamazoo business consultant, tells followers:

What's next for #PureMichigan after RtW ad? pro-gun ads? Discrimination against gays? What else on Repub agenda do they support?. 

A non-political criticism of the ad comes from language purists who target the ad's final sentence "The perfect storm of opportunity, resources and passion is Pure Michigan."

"Storm? Not a good choice of words for a pitch," posts 41-year-old Aquinas Collage graduate David Chambers of Monroe.   

Ypsilanti-based blogger Mark Maynard, a business consultant, is similarly puzzled:

Who uses the phrase "perfect storm" in an ad campaign that’s trying to convey a sense of confidence about a region? . . .

I've actually read "The Perfect Storm." . . . And, guess what? There were no survivors!

-- Alan Stamm

Earlier coverage

Is 'Perfect Storm' The Way To Promote A Pure, Right-To-Work Michigan?, Jan. 9

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