Monday, February 27, 2006
The only sponsor the city has gotten so far is a maker of garbage bags. Garbage bags aren’t about Mardi Gras; they’re about Ash Wednesday, about suffering and repentance. They’re about cleaning up, for chrissake. I think we’ve all had enough of that, haven’t we?
I think we all know what Mardi Gras is about, even if we cluck disapprovingly when we read USA Today call Carnival “a bawdy, liquor-soaked celebration inappropriate for a city brought to its knees by Hurricane Katrina.” Of course Mardi Gras is more than that, we tell ourselves. It’s an ancient expression of our Gallic and Latin heritage, steeped in tradition and pageantry.
Isn’t it? Huh? Yeah, I’ll have another of the same.
Okay, so Mardi Gras is a bawdy, liquor-soaked celebration. That’s why I’m so disappointed no one thought to go for the obvious sort of sponsor: liquor and beer companies. Perhaps they did approach them, and in that whole spirit of “enjoy our products responsibly”, they all ran away screaming.
I mean, they do mean it when they say they want us to enjoy their products responsibly, don’t they? That’s why they promote their stuff via spokespeople Tony Sinclair. Doesn’t he just exude moderation and responsibility? (Do you think it’s all right, to leave the boy with Uncle Tony?)
These are the sponsors we need, to lead Mardi Gras into a brave, new commercial age.
Tony Sinclair. Bacardi Guy and Cola. That Drambuie guy. I think a lot of people in New Orleans could identify with the Drambuie guy, being chased by the police through streets, then ducking into his local to try and blend in with the crowd as soon as he gets a slight lead. Sure, a lot of those folks are in Houston right now, but I think the right sort of sponsor could help bring them home.
That’s why I want to see Bacardi Guy and Cola hosting national television coverage of Mardi Gras, standing on a Bourbon Street balcony and smirking at girls the as bear it for beads. I want to see Tony Sinclair high above the crowd, slumped over a gaudy paper mache throne and balancing a tremendous martini glass, casting inappropriate glances at his pages.
That’s the kind of sponsorship we need to get the city back on its feet. We need to let those Shriners and college boys and salary men all over America know that their favorite city is back and waiting for them. Forget what you saw on TV about the convention center. The Swedish Bikini Team is waiting for you on a Bourbon Street balcony, so come on down.
I don’t think we should just stop with the booze and beer companies.
I traveled with my wife to a conference in San Francisco one June, and caught the Gay Pride March. Being several carnivals into my expat exile, I went a little parade crazy, ending up with a big sack of all sorts of colorful and interesting condoms.
Condoms are a perfect fit for the Quarter. I can see where the mainline krewes might not be interested in being sponsored by Trojan or in tossing out prophylactics to the kiddies on St. Charles, but it’s got real potential downtown.
The Uptown parades might require some more sedate and respectable sponsors, something suitable to an older and more gentrified audience. Like that K-Y Warming Lubricant. And Levitra. Hell, I love that Levitra guy. I think if Blaine Kern can’t come up with an entire parade theme built around those Levitra ads, he’s really slipping.
And what about Victoria’s Secret? There’s no reason a classy outfit like that couldn’t do Uptown. The Krewe of Iris, one of the cheapest and least interesting bunches around, could draw a whole new demographic out of their hung over stupor on a Saturday morning if the krewe were sponsored and costumed by Victoria’s Secret.
In fact, why not get a bidding war started between Victoria’s Secret and Frederick’s of Hollywood? Or better, have them both. Carnival is big enough for everybody to get their piece.
The last set of missed sponsorships is so obvious; it’s as painful as an Ash Wednesday hangover to think nobody went after them. Don’t you think Tylenol and Alka-Seltzer would want their names all over Carnival? What marketing guy or gal wouldn’t want the booze-swilling masses to have those product names firmly burned into their brains come the day after, to perhaps wake up the next morning mostly clothed and find a colorful, throw-size Alka Seltzer Plus in their pocket.
Instead, we get garbage bags. While that’s a complete failure for the first post-Katrina and commercialized Mardi Gras, it’s a prefect commentary. It shows the complete lack of initiative and imagination of our leadership, an unwillingness to come to terms with our situation and find a way out of it.
I mean, couldn’t they have at least made a run at Hershey’s or Nestle?
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