Facing an increasing number of boycotts and an avalanche of bad publicity over the passage of its new immigration law, Arizona's Republican Governor Jan Brewer announced what she believes will solve the problem.
According to a report in the Arizona Republic, Brewer has asked a newly formed task force to rebrand and reposition the state of Arizona, starting with a $250,000 marketing campaign. Said Brewer: "It's up to us to get the truth out there." Steve Moore, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Convention and Visitor's Bureau, was quoted as saying: "The end goal is to reassert that we are a safe, inviting, diverse, culturally aware community."
With the passage of State Bill 1070 Arizona's image has taken an enormous hit. The state's been criticized by politicians (including President Barack Obama and Republican Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rick Perry), mocked by comedians (most notably Saturday Night Live and a new short from Andy Cobb called "Travel Arizona") and condemned by civil right groups .
In announcing the rebranding effort, Brewer blamed the backlash against Arizona on "misinformation." But by passing the controversial new law it would seem Arizona has created something far bigger than an image problem; the state now faces what may be an economic disaster. Latest estimates predict Phoenix alone could lose up to $90 million from lost revenue due to the backlash against the new immigration law. And the boycotts show no sign of abating: just this week two groups canceled conventions scheduled for 2011 in Tucson, Los Angeles became the largest of a number of cities across the country to boycott Arizona, and Latin hip-hop group Cypress Hill became the latest entertainer to cancel an Arizona performance (the group issued a statement saying in part: "this decision was made in an effort to show support and solidarity with those, undocumented and otherwise, being directly affected by this unconstitutional 'law' ").
According to one definition, the process of rebranding often involves an entity's attempt "to distance itself from certain negative connotations of the previous branding." With Los Angeles City Councilman Pauk Koretz (whose relatives survived the Holocaust) comparing Arizona's new law to Nazi Germany and Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney drawing a comparison to the tactics of Communist Russia, it would seem Arizona's rebranding task force has their work cut out for them.