IndieWhip Issues Updated Statement About Tourism Campaign

When we were hired by the agency (not the State) to edit the Rhode Island video, we were ecstatic at the prospect of being a part of a project that involved rebranding the place we're proud to call home. Nobody expected that any of this would happen. We were the smallest company involved, on only one part of the project, but given the nature of the campaign, we easily became the most visible.

The fact of the matter is, without resistance or hesitation, IndieWhip has completely and publicly admitted fault for our part in what happened with the #WeAreRI campaign video. We didn’t run away and hide, or suggest blame towards any other party. Instead, we pushed head first into it. Our understanding was that the placeholder footage was of a local resident of Rhode Island skateboarding in Iceland, who was part of a film crew. We were misinformed, and we apologize for not doing our due diligence.

It needs to be stated that the video shown on Monday evening was not supposed to go public. We were told by the client that there would be additional changes made before the official launch. Without our knowledge, the video was posted to social media for public display. Given the rushed nature of the release, we were not provided an opportunity to offer the client another revision before the video went public. We can’t speak for the time of the intended launch of any of the other collateral in the campaign.

It is important to note that the delivery of the video shown Monday evening was pushed up by 5 days - from 4/1 to 3/28, which given the campaign’s seriousness, was likely a smart and calculated move by the State to not roll out a rebranding effort on April Fools' Day. However, given all of the effort that was put into the entire campaign - particularly money, time, and human resources - an accelerated timeline in the final stretch of launching an advertising or marketing campaign can lead to mistakes and oversight, big or small, across all parties involved.

After the Icelandic footage at the center of this situation was brought to our attention, and prior to our first public apology, we were requested to turn around an edited version of the video at 2PM on Tuesday, March 29th, and did so within 2 hours, at 4:01PM. We have since then provided an even more updated version of the video, as of the afternoon of Wednesday, March 30th. It is not in our control if (or when) the State will release that edit.

Seemingly alone, we were placed in the spotlight of this story to take the fall on something much bigger than us or our responsibilities in the situation. However, as you now know, we are a creative ad agency. Naturally, we are going to try and work whatever positives we can to find the smile in the whole thing; to change the conversation is what great advertising is all about. As we’ve said and whole-heartedly believe, when life gives you lemons, you have to make lemonade – whether it’s cooler or warmer than what you’d prefer.

Despite the local media attention focusing on the negatives of this whole story, Rhode Island needs to utilize this as an opportunity to focus on positivity on a larger scale. This is a chance to enact change, and actually make a difference. Even the State has embraced the outpour of creativity, and we are extremely proud that the creative community has stepped up to participate.

The number of people in the Rhode Island community (and beyond) that have been reaching out has been overwhelming. What the community needs to shift focus towards is the incredibly talented and vibrant arts community that we have here in Rhode Island, which is more apparent now than ever before. We should be looking inward and utilizing these talents for the greater good. 

The outpour of comments - both negative and positive - goes to show how much Rhode Islanders truly care. With more eyes on Rhode Island than ever before, this is a time to come together, collectively have a good laugh, and show the rest of the world that Rhode Island rolls with the punches and can make the best of it.

The video has since gone viral and the intended audience, people outside of Rhode Island, have learned about Rhode Island on a scale that couldn't have been planned; the cost of exposure on that level far exceeds the proposed paid media budget. In truth, the majority of feedback on the video from people outside Rhode Island was positive. Marketers and Advertisers know that this is what viral marketing is all about, and if viewed from the perspective of organic reach, the video enjoyed some success. We stand by the Governor's statement that the enthusiasm brought forth from the campaign will actually have a positive affect on tourism in Rhode Island.

Whether or not you were a fan of the logo, tagline, or overall campaign, the fact remains that We Are ALL Rhode Island.

- IndieWhip

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