Colonial Williamsburg’s recent television ad campaign!
We here at the American Hysterical Society firmly believe that history doesn’t sell. The History Channel is all the proof you’ll ever need of that. Most Americans are not interested in pure history, research, interpretation, or historiography (we’d bet most of you were turned off just reading that sentence). This puts museums in an increasingly difficult position. We’re trained to do that boring stuff, but boring stuff does not resonate with our potential visitors. So we turn to ad agencies, people experienced in spinning and selling, for help.
When these two worlds meet it can make for some awkward moments, as you can watch below.
This one is aimed at couples. We’re not sure what kind of couples. The word boogie suggests it’s geared for those in their 50s or 60s who fondly remember their courtship during the Bicentennial.
Then there’s this one where a folk art “couple” discuss their possible vacation plans, which is exactly as exciting as it sounds (oh, and we hate to break it them, but folk art doesn’t exist).
These next three are different cuts of the same commercial wherein your visit to CW will cause some stranger to invade your home, join you in the shower, spend time in the bathroom with your tweenage daughter, give your son the gift of sadism, and seduce your wife (by the way, we think they should have replaced the alarm clock buzzer with a crowing cock).
So why did Colonial Williamsburg commission these new ads? Sally McConnell, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s director of strategic communications, said they went in this new direction because, “It’s time for us to break through the perception that this is just a fourth-grade field trip.” It worked. It’s clearly a fifth grade field trip now. And a disturbing one at that.