Local News

'Weird' Fayetteville ads leave some scratching their heads

Posted July 14, 2009 1:30 p.m. EDT
Updated July 14, 2009 6:14 p.m. EDT

— Tacky, tasteless, moronic – those are just some of the words critics are using to describe an ad campaign spearheaded by the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The web videos are part of the city's advertising campaign: "Fayetteville N.C., the World's First Sanctuary for Soldiers."

The videos began showing on various Web sites last week. By Monday, most had been pulled. But as of Tuesday morning, they were back on You Tube.com.

In one video, a soldier climbs onto the back of an elderly woman with a walker. Instead of a strapping young soldier guiding the lady across the street, it's the other way around.

The web ads, produced by the Republik advertising agency in Durham, are meant to show that Fayetteville is exceptionally military friendly.

WRAL News showed the ads to people on the street in Fayetteville. Among the four who viewed them, the meaning seemed lost.

“I think I was so caught up in it being atypical, that I’d want to watch it again to make sure I got the message,” said Fayetteville resident Christin Bellian. “I think I spent most of my time processing it thinking, ‘Oh my God, that was weird.’”

“You know, it was just a bit distasteful,” said Ebony Oliver, a Fayetteville resident.

As for making the point that Fayetteville will go to any lengths for the military, Oliver said she "didn’t grasp that from it at all.”

The president of the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau said he wants to continue to gauge public reaction to the ads. John Meroski said the intent was to make them edgy and over the top, and he has no plans to hire another ad agency.

Meroski said it doesn't matter if he likes the ads. What matters is that they show Fayetteville will go to almost any length to make soldiers welcome.

Mayor Tony Chavonne has seen the spots and said they’re supposed to be edgy. He is not willing to pull the plug on them yet.

“An overwhelming number of the soldiers here are young soldiers standing in line for ‘Bruno’ and ‘Borat,’” Chavonne said. “I think it’s an effort to try to speak to them in a language they enjoy.”

Chavonne said the response from the military has been positive.

“It might not be on that appeals to you or me,” Chavonne said. “It’s probably not designed for a 50-year-old guy to appeal to, but I think it probably does appeal to those young people.”