NM known as ‘dull,’ ‘close to Arizona’


The Organ Mountains (Photo by Heath Haussamen)

New Mexico, the so-called Land of Enchantment, has a branding problem, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.

From today’s article:

“New Mexico calls itself the Land of Enchantment. But the spell isn’t working all that well.

“Overnight tourist trips in New Mexico have dropped by nearly 10% in the past three years, and spending on everything from souvenir magnets to turquoise jewelry fell by hundreds of millions of dollars.

“When state tourism officials convened focus groups in Chicago, Houston and Los Angeles to ask prospective travelers about their perceptions of New Mexico, the same depressing descriptions kept cropping up: ‘Arid.’ ‘Barren.’ ‘Dull.’

“Also: ‘Close to Arizona.’”


What’s New Mexico going to do about it? From the article:


“So state officials are launching a $2.5 million effort to rebrand New Mexico as a place of charm and character, adventure, excitement — and really good green chili cheeseburgers. As a model, the state is looking north to Colorado, which routinely gets praised in focus groups as ‘majestic,’ ‘glorious’ and ‘heavenly.’

“But rebranding a state can be a risky proposition. New Jersey hired a consultant a few years ago to come up with a new tourism slogan. The result? ‘New Jersey: We’ll Win You Over.’ That may have been an improvement over its 1970s tagline, ‘New Jersey’s Got It,’ which inspired innumerable jokes about venereal disease. But state officials thought ‘We’ll Win You Over’ sounded defensive and spiked the campaign.

“New Mexico, too, has had some marketing misfires. One recent come-hither campaign played off conspiracy theories about UFO landings in Roswell, N.M., and featured bug-eyed green aliens. The state’s Rose Parade float in 2008 featured the creatures.”

One obvious problem: The Wall Street Journal, in an article about New Mexico’s green chile, spelled it “chili.”

Read the rest of the article here.

4 thoughts on “NM known as ‘dull,’ ‘close to Arizona’

  1.   The article points out some real difficulties for the tourism industry in New Mexico, but the fact that it’s being discussed is encouraging.  Tourism is no panacea, but a healthy tourism industry can provide many thousands of jobs, generate millions in income for the both the state and it’s residents.  Tourism nourishes entrepreneurship and small business, something New Mexico could really use to help wean itself from the dependence on extraction industries.
      While there certainly are areas of the state that would benefit more than others from tourism development, one of the great things about it is that it’s decentralized, that any area anywhere in the state has a crack at attracting visitors and investment in tourism infrastructure, businesses and amenities.  This is very different  than a big factory here, a mine there, an oil play over there.  And factories close, oil wells dry up, and  movie jobs go on to the next state that offers greater subsidies.   Tourism, built on the solid and indisputable natural and cultural attractions of this state, lasts virtually forever and the jobs and businesses it creates can’t be outsourced.  

      All that being said…2.5 million dollars for tourism promotion is a joke, and one that falls flat right out of the gate.  That’s not enough money to do anything truely significant in the  Southwest region, much less nationally.  The focus group comments demonstrate the widespread ignorance of most Americans about New Mexico, and a 2.5  drop in the bucket isn’t going to change that….it won’t even scratch the surface.   New Mexico needs to get serious about investing in this if it wants to see tourism grow and the state prosper.  There’s a significant payback that should make this a no-brainer, but the Governor and the legislature need to step up to make something happen.  They should be looking three or four times as much put into this effort.


  2. Ah, as the great governor once put it “Poor New Mexico, so far from heaven and so close to Texas”.  But really, I am surprised people in ChiTown and NYC even know where NM is and that it is a state.  LA is a little better, but the Angelenos are so Cali-centric they hardly care.  I for one would prefer to get many less Chicago and NYC people out here, they just don’t fit in and tend to clog up the attractions for the rest of us.