Mississippi Goes On A Charm Offensive

A new ad campaign aims to change people’s perceptions of the state. From The International Herald Tribune:

When anyone has wanted to know the country’s poorest state, or its fattest, or least educated, or sickest, or most corrupt, the answer has most often been Mississippi.
It has even been rated the worst place to raise a child.
Mississippi has long chafed at those perceptions, which in some cases spring more from stereotype than statistics. Some time back, however, Rick Looser, the chief operating officer of the Cirlot advertising agency in Jackson, acting on his own initiative, set out to counter the low self-esteem inspired by the perceptions.
The advertising campaign that Looser and his colleagues created – called “Mississippi, Believe It!” – addresses the old clich├ęs directly and seeks to turn them to its advantage as a way of spreading a message about some of the state’s more notable accomplishments.
The 14 posters in the campaign, which were sent to schools in Mississippi last year, take umbrage at backwoods stereotypes including monster trucks, hog calling and Klan rallies. In smaller print, the posters describe in detail the achievements of native authors, athletes, scientists and businessmen, and the state as a whole.
Kathy Herbert, 46, a receptionist at Oxford Elementary School, agreed that the state needed a better image, saying that when her teenage children traveled, they were frequently embarrassed to say they were from Mississippi. But she took exception to the posters’ approach.
“I think it’s pitiful,” Herbert said. “It’s pitiful we have to do that.”

Actually, it may be pitiful, but it’s right on. Any brand that wishes to improve its image has to acknowledge what the current perception is. Especially one like Mississippi, which is the butt of so many jokes.
The Cirlot Agency of Jackson created the campaign. You can view all the ads at MississippiBelieveIt.com.
UPDATE: At Brand Architect, Patrick Collings takes a look at all of the Mississippi ads and says that one ad’s claim that Mississippi doctors performed the first-ever heart transplant isn’t true. “Believe It!” or not, I suppose.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for TalentZoo.com. Dan published the best of his TalentZoo.com columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. If they’re trying to dispel stereotypes, shouldn’t the slogan be: “Mississippi, DON’T Believe It”?

  2. As an Ole Miss graduate and a person whose parents both came from Mississippi it really makes my skin crawl to see this campaign.
    It is moronic. And pedantic. And embarrasing.
    Why go on the defensive? Why not take a more positive, proactive approach???? Why not get the damn thing right anyway — believe it? Believe what, the stereotypes? How about “don’t believe it”….. arrrgh.
    Mississippi is a beautiful place, steeped with tradition. Does it have a painful history? You bet it does.
    I just think that a different approach would have been a better way to communicate — both inside the state and to the outside world — that being from Mississippi is something to be proud of.
    I am proud to say that my family is from there. I am proud to say that I went to Ole Miss. But I am not a racist. And I am not narrow minded. There are plenty of progressive modern-day individuals who hail from this state.
    Am I ashamed of the things that went on there in the past? Yes, I most certainly am. Perhaps ashamed is the wrong word, though, as I did not do any of those terrible things. It makes my heart bleed when i think of the things that happened there. But I am still a Mississippian.

  3. The first ever heart transplant was done in Jackson, Mississippi by doctor James Hardy. It was a primate to human transplant. He proved it was possible to transplant the heart. South Africa later did the first human to human transplant.