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Livin’ In Texas

May 20, 2003

Texas is a state whose very name conjures up images of lone cowboys with their own particular honor code riding across vast and dusty plains. At least, it seems that to Texans it does. The commercials I see on television these days seem to push this idea of the great state of Texas with a great deal of enthusiasm, which leads me to wonder if other states have as much state pride as this one does. Or if this state pride is merely a matter of media stereotyping.

“Texas value” and “As big as Texas” seem to be the two major themes which are liked by companies wishing to push their product. But really, is Texas all that valuable? Sure, we’ve got lots of oil, a couple of nice big cities, and a rather interesting stake in the cattle market, but what about all that empty land? Are the vast plains of the western desert really worth all that much? And how exactly does that vast emptiness balance out with the richness of the populated areas? At best, we’re running a little ahead of dead even. If it were me, I be more inclined to choose another state to indicate a good value. Maybe one where there’s not so much empty space, and a great deal more history. One of the New England states perhaps.

If something were literally as big as Texas, you might have some problems selling it. But hyperbole is apparently a great way to sell a product. If you exaggerate a little you might be accused of false advertising, but a huge exaggeration leaves an out for the company. A consumer can’t honestly say that they believed the commercial when it said that the steak was 268,601 square miles. That would just be silly. However, if you’re going to think big, why not go for Alaska? Maybe because “A taste as big as Alaska” doesn’t have the same alliterative value.

Part of me wonders if other states have commercials like this on their local stations. I don’t watch TV much when I’m out of state, so it never really occurred to me to notice. Do coffee companies in Louisiana advertise that their product is as rich and dark as a Louisiana swamp? Mmmm…. Swampy goodness. Or maybe people in Florida see ads for products that are as warm as a Florida winter. I can only imagine what kind of product might want to advertise that they are as rude as a New Yorker in a heat wave. Or maybe it’s just Texas. Maybe Texas is the only state that has this inflated sense of pride over their state. Not that Texas isn’t a great state. I can’t imagine living anywhere else but here, or maybe Hawaii. Having lived here my whole life it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else. And I guess that’s where the pride comes in. Once you’ve lived here, you can’t imagine living anywhere else. Let other states joke about how our children ride horses to school. We’ve got pride. And lots of cows.

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