Worst tourism campaigns ever?


North Dakota, I sympathize with your tourism anguish. I come from a state where “Better Yet Connecticut” was the best we could come up with to draw tourists away from New York and Boston. Might as well have made it: “Connecticut: Hey, we’re over here!”

Yes, that North Dakota “Legendary” ad with the two goofy guys leering through the bar window at three giggling women — “Drinks, dinner, decisions” — was a bit creepy.

But a quick Googling turns up some tourism campaigns nearly as tone deaf. My favorites:

Toronto: We don’t stink anymore! Hoping to draw crowds after a 2009 garbage strike, city promoters wanted to let tourists know that the city was not a cesspool, so they tried: Toronto Never Smelled So Good. 


Rhode Island is for…people who like anthropomorphic food. The state that spawned toy giant Hasbro hoped to leverage that corporate mirth in 1999 when it declared Hasbro’s Mr. Potato Head the state’s official “ambassador” of fun. 

The thing is Rhode Island is not the first state that comes to mind when you think, “potato.”

The effort led to public art (think Peanuts statues in St. Paul) that seemed like a good idea until one of the potato heads was deemed racially insensitive.

Where are you, you idiot? Australians dig their edgy vibe. So it’s natural that ads to promote the wonders of their nation and the earthiness of their people would be a little salty.

“Shrimp on the barbie” started to sound a little stuffy, so in 2006, Australia unveiled a new ad packed with beautiful people saying stuff like, “We saved you a spot on the beach,” and “We bought you a beer.”

The tag line, though, caused much squirming: “Where the bloody hell are you?”

What was supposed to be earthy ended up banned in some of the countries where Australia was trying to harvest tourists. Two years and $180 million later, the campaign was over.

North Dakota seems like Victorian England by comparison!

What’s the worst tourism promotion you’ve seen?