Vam­pire-themed video has colum­nist see­ing red

Cham­ber head says spoof reaches tar­get tourism au­di­ence

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

An Alabama news­pa­per edi­tor/colum­nist is no fan of Cov­ing­ton’s vam­pire-themed tourism video, writ­ing a scathing col­umn this past week­end that called the video “lame, dis­gust­ing and down­right tacky.”

Kyle Mooty, edi­tor and gen­eral man­ager of The En­ter­prise Ledger in En­ter­prise, Ala., said the tourism video, in­spired by pop­u­lar tours of “The Vam­pires Di­aries” film­ing sites, was poorly re­ceived in his town dur­ing a re­cent ad­ver­tis­ing run, but Hunter Hall, pres­i­dent of the Cov­ing­ton-New­ton County Cham­ber of Com­merce, said the video was an in­ten­tional spoof aimed at the au­di­ence that watches the pop­u­lar CW Net­work show.

When the cham­ber un­veiled its new tourism web­site, GoCov­ing­ton.com, it also rolled out a pro­fes­sion­ally-pro­duced pro­mo­tional video that shows a male vam­pire lead­ing a mother and daugh­ter on a tour of “Vam- pire Di­aries” film­ing sites. At the end of the pur­pose­fully over-the-top video, the daugh­ter comes back from look­ing at a site to find her mother miss­ing, while the vam­pire even­tu­ally shows off a sheep­ish smile with blood-cov­ered teeth.

Colum­nist’s crit­i­cisms

The video was played sev­eral times dur­ing an on­line broad­cast of the Dixie Ju­nior Boys World Se­ries, which fea­tured a team from En­ter­prise. Af­ter watch­ing the ad at jock­jive.com, Mooty wrote, “The video has scared me away from that town for­ever.

“No, the lame-act­ing vam­pire who stalks a mother and daugh­ter and even­tu­ally con­sumes (we are led to be­lieve) the mother, hardly scared me; it was the fact that some higher-ups in the town ac­tu­ally ap­proved the video to be used as a pro­mo­tional tool for the town. Who wants to be in a town with lead­er­ship that care­less?” Mooty wrote

in an Aug. 11 col­umn on dothanea­gle.com/en­ter­prise_ledger.

Not­ing the video never specif­i­cally states that “Vam­pire Di­aries” is filmed in Cov­ing­ton (though it does im­ply it) , Mooty called the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Cov­ing­ton “pa­thetic.”

“It would be akin to Brent­wood, Calif., show­ing the chase of O.J. Simpson in his buddy’s Bronco as a pro­mo­tional tool for that Los An­ge­les sub­urb,” Mooty wrote. “Let’s go ahead and have Cincinnati pro­mote the fact that Charles Man­son was born there, Chicago pro­mote that O’Hare is con­sid­ered the most danger­ous air­port in the U.S. or Pi­nos Al­tos, N.M., pro­mote the fact that one of its res­i­dents was killed by a moun­tain lion in 2008. ‘Oh boy, Mom, let’s go hik­ing in Pi­nos Al­tos.’”

In a fol­low-up email, Mooty said he didn’t write the col­umn un­til he heard other res­i­dents ex­press crit­i­cism of the ad, too.

While he un­der­stands there’s no real dan­ger in Cov­ing­ton, he said he felt the town’s “beau­ti­ful scenery should be enough to sell it­self rather than por­tray­ing a creepy stalker hit­ting on two women,” and he ques­tioned ad­ver­tis­ing to a base­ball tour­na­ment for 13-year-olds, with “par­ents, grand­par­ents and young kids” in the au­di­ence.

“I saw it dozens of times over three or four days, and I prob­a­bly didn’t pay that close of at­ten­tion un­til sev­eral times into it, when I re­al­ized it was ac­tu­ally pro­mot­ing a town. I just found that very in­ter­est­ing, even af­ter I learned that Cov­ing­ton was where (‘Vam­pire) Di­aries’ was filmed, as I said, be­cause there was no men­tion of that in the ad and I don’t think the aver­age Joe out­side of Ge­or­gia re­al­izes that; and the fact that it was pro­mot­ing tourism by show­ing what is ba­si­cally a very creepy (grey-skinned) stalker that even­tu­ally (we are led to be­lieve) kills one of the ladies,” Mooty said in an email.

“Yes, yes, I know, it’s all in fun, but I just found it in­ter­est­ing for a city to pro­mote tourism this way, es­pe­cially for those out­side of Cov­ing­ton that have no idea about the film­ing there of ‘Vam­pire Di­aries.’”

Cham­ber re­sponse

Cham­ber Pres­i­dent Hall said the video was made as an in­ten­tional spoof, tar­geted at 13-to-30-year-olds who watch the show. He said tourism num­bers have in­creased since the new web­site launched.

“Mr. Mooty’s com­par­isons, al­though I un­der­stand the point he is try­ing to make, are a bit of a reach. Ev­ery­one knows that vam­pires do not ex­ist. They are not real. They are folk­lore and imag­i­na­tion. O.J. Simpson, Charles Man­son and the Pi­nos Alto moun­tain lion are real tragic sit­u­a­tions,” Hall said in an email Tues­day.

“When we sat down with the video pro­ducer, we in- ten­tion­ally made it a spoof on vam­pires, not a pro­mo­tion of them. The in­tent and tar­get of the ad­ver­tis­ing was not to the national tourist mar­ket -- it was very tar­geted to 13-30-year-olds who watch the show. That is the de­mo­graphic that we see here day in and day out tak­ing the tours. The com­mer­cial pro­ducer took the tour him­self for the ex­pressed pur­pose of un­der­stand­ing the de­mo­graphic and how best to cap­ture ele­ments that would at­tract a tourist to come to Cov­ing­ton.”

Hall said there are no changes planned to the video; he did say the cham­ber has dis­cussed a “more tra­di­tional Cov­ing­ton tourism” video and priced it, but first wanted to play off the suc­cess of “The Vam­pire Di­aries” and the op­por­tu­nity that pro­vided for the town.

Hall said feed­back for the video has been great and said the video has been pro­moted by Mys­tic Falls Tours, the lo­cal tour com­pany owned by Jessica Low­ery, to its 10,815 Face­book fol­low­ers and 15,101 Twit­ter fol­low­ers, and ac­tor Ian Somer­hald’s 4.04 mil­lion Twit­ter fol­low­ers.

“Mys­tic Falls Tours have in­creased 10 per­cent since the spot went vi­ral. Jessica told me this af­ter­noon that, iron­i­cally, a lot of peo­ple from Alabama have been on the tour (pos­si­bly a byprod­uct to the ad­ver­tis­ing we did at the Dixie (Ju­nior) Boys World Se­ries). On the Cham­ber’s YouTube page, the video has been viewed by 28,885 peo­ple, with 182 thumbs ups and 3 thumbs down,” Hall wrote.

Screen grab /The Cov­ing­ton News

A screen­shot of the cham­ber’s tourism video on gocov­ing­ton.com.

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