The ‘Jersey Doesn’t Stink’ campaign understandably aims to improve the image of our state, which many residents feel is a well-kept secret offering abundant activities and opportunities. But the negative and defensive slogan undercuts the campaign’s intention and will wind up making the state the punch line of even more bad jokes.
As a 30-year-old public relations firm founded and active in the beautiful Garden State, we believe the campaign is counterproductive. By associating stink with the state, the campaign slogan unwittingly perpetuates an unpleasant—and erroneous—stereotype. It’s a sad fact that some misinformed people have a negative opinion of New Jersey, but this campaign does little to educate them. It fails to capture everything that makes New Jersey a wonderful place to live and visit: its beaches, parks, farms, gardens and the rich cultural diversity of the residents. Jersey is the most densely populated state yet we still have lush open space as many first-time tourists delightfully discover.
Another negative campaign—“Just Say No to Drugs”—from the 1980s had no lasting impact on our country’s efforts to combat our country’s epidemic of drug abuse. Today not only are drugs and drug use more prevalent, but violence in Mexico and the United States has escalated alarmingly.
What really does stink about New Jersey is the number of politicians who are indicted or in jail. This, we believe, is a sign of the times considering the national average of crooked politicos. And it is definitely something the Governor went far in correcting when he was the federal U.S. Attorney for the New Jersey District.
But the positives about New Jersey far outweigh the negative aspects. We need a positive slogan so we urge our fellow New Jersey residents to share your creative ideas for telling everyone why our state is so great.
Christopher Rosica is CEO of Paramus-NJ based Rosica Strategic Public Relations. John Rosica founded the firm in 1980.