Edited By: James Bock
With Will Sullivan, Emily Brandon and Bret Schulte
U.S. News & World Report
When some southerners despair about their poor national standing in measures like wealth or education, you’ll often hear them mutter: “Well, at least there’s Mississippi.” It’s a joke – sort of. “We’re last on every good list and first on every bad list,” acknowledges Mississippi advertising executive Rick Looser. But he argues there’s plenty to be proud of. His firm in Jackson, The Cirlot Agency, has taken it upon itself to create an acerbic ad campaign that puts a bloom on the Magnolia State. On one poster: “Yes, we can read. A few of us can even write.” It shows pics of William Faulkner, Eudora Welty, and Richard Wright. On another: “No Black. No White. Just the Blues.” It shows B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, and Bo Diddley.
Looser is shipping the posters to 1,200 Mississippi schools to endow hope and pride in students. Proceeds from T-shirts and novelty items will go to expanding the campaign to national media. Suddenly, neighboring states are looking at Mississippi in a new light.
“We had a call from Arkansas asking how they could do it,” Looser says. No dice. The new phrase in these parts may soon be, “At least we’re not Arkansas.”
Hey, This Joke’s Not on Mississippi