Tourism debacle grabbing national attention, causing a stir

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – It seems the controversy surrounding Rhode Island’s new tourism campaign is going national again. This time, the New York Times is picking up the story. It’s getting national attention in The New York Times. 

Katherine Q. Seelye, the Times’ New England bureau chief, published a story Wednesday reviewing the past week’s events and featuring criticism of Gov. Gina Raimondo’s team by famed New York designer Milton Glaser, who led the tourism campaign’s development.

The article features an excerpt from WPRI.com reporter Ted Nesi’s Saturday Morning Post from this past weekend, in which he provided analysis of why the botched campaign has received so much backlash.

The debacle began last Monday when the R.I. Commerce Corporation unveiled a new logo and slogan, created in part by two out-of-state marketing firms for roughly $550,000, as the symbol of a new $4.5 million tourism campaign.

The branding “Cooler & Warmer” was quickly mocked on social media, and the criticism grew exponentially when it was discovered a related promotional video included footage of Iceland and a redesigned tourism website contained outdated, inaccurate information. The errors made national headlines.

On Friday, Raimondo said taxpayers would get back more than $100,000 from two of the companies involved in the campaign’s launch, and said she plans to keep the new logo while dropping the slogan that went with it. She also accepted the resignation of the state’s chief marketing officer.

R.I. Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor received further criticism this week after a Monday interview on Eyewitness News in which he refused to provide specific details about the timing of the tourism campaign’s development. “What else do you have?” he asked after reporter Perry Russom pressed him for more information.

Take a look at some of the posts people have made about the campaign:

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