Around New Jersey, small storms are brewing about the “Stronger than the storm” television and radio ads now running to entice visitors back to the Jersey Shore this summer.
The ads, developed by Brushfire Marketing Communications, a Cedar Knolls, NJ agency in just under three weeks, feature Governor Chris Christie (and, in some, his family). From the start of the ad campaign (paid in part by federal funds) there’s been controversy over whether Christie, who’s running for re-election, should be allowed to appear in federally-funded media ads, although many other governors have appeared in tourism ads in the past.
While key tourist towns have benefited from major rebuilding funds and attention, many shore (and even inland) communities are still in a weak position in respect to rebuilding efforts and scores of homeowners and small businesses are in limbo, awaiting insurance settlements and federal emergency funds. A Rutgers University poll reports that overall, Jersey residents rate the Shore recovery at only 6.4 on a 10-point scale.
A recent letter to the editor at NJ.com seems to sum up Shore residents’ frustrations. Bob Conklin writes: “If you think New Jersey is really ‘stronger than the storm,’ just drive through Mantoloking, Ortley Beach, and Seaside Heights, where rubble from destroyed homes is still evident and ‘for sale’ signs dot the marred landscape. But don’t worry — the free advertising all the glitzy boardwalk vendors received through Christie’s ad campaign will keep those cash registers humming. Enjoy the beach, governor.”
Then there’s the background music in the ads, which some are calling very lame indeed (or in one case, “a bad version of 70s hair band pop”). The ad creators at Brushfire wrote the lyrics and hired a composer (wonder if they first asked Tom Waits about using his “down the shore everything’s all right” line from the Jersey Girl Springsteen hit). As for the resulting ditty, you decide. And hey, if you love the #STTS campaign, you might like their Facebook page.