New Kentucky Branding Kicks Ass

When it comes to travel destinations, branding can mean the difference between success and economic ruin.

And if your thoughts of Kentucky rarely stray beyond KFC, liquor and horse racing, you can understand why three Kentucky advertising professionals have spearheaded a campaign to replace the state’s official “Unbridled Spirit” tagline with something a little less, well, meh. Their choice: “Kentucky Kicks Ass.”

Griffin VanMeter (Bullhorn), Whit Hiler (Cornett Integrated Marketing Solutions) and Kent Carmichael (Energy BBDO) created the campaign; Lexington-based Cricket Press designed the logo, posters and tags for it. (VanMeter, Hiler and Carmichael previously launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $3.5 million to purchase a Super Bowl ad touting the state in 2011; they raised an impressive $112,287.)

If the language of this campaign sounds a bit too “modern” to be sanctioned by a state in one of the few developed nations that prohibits nudity on terrestrial TV channels, you’re right. Despite making headlines in USA Today, The New York Times, and dozens of other media outlets across the country, this remains a rebranding effort without official backing. That professionally-designed “ass kicking” logo has only appeared throughout the state thanks to public-spirited Kentucky businesses, and through a sort of street-art ethos embraced by proud Kentuckians.

Considering the state of social media (the campaign has 10,000+ likes on Facebook and counting) today, just how much difference does official approval really make?

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