By Lacey Walters
People from Mississippi can’t read or write and they don’t wear shoes — unfortunately those have been the stereotypes that have plagued the state for decades. To positively promote a state that is affluent in culture, history and academics, a Jackson-based marketing and public relations firm created a campaign that proves those stereotypes false.
“Everybody knows how the rest of the country stereotypes us. I think it is important that we just don’t accept that without challenging it and so instead of trying to paint a rosy picture of Mississippi without meeting the stereotypes head on, we chose to say them out loud,” said Rick Looser, chief operating officer for The Cirlot Agency.
The “Mississippi … Believe It!” campaign began as a project of the Cirlot Agency as an in-house project to promote the positive aspects of the Magnolia State such as medical advancements, nationally renowned writers, professional athletes and successful entertainers. Since the campaign began, it has run in countless newspapers and magazines throughout the state, and articles have been written in more than 50 publications nationwide. Looser said when the campaign began, he did not realize how much national prominence it would receive.
“Nobody will see this and change their total view of Mississippi, but we do hope that people will see this and take a second look,” Looser said this week at the annual Jones County Junior College Economic and Technology Symposium.
Looser said that if people do take that second look at Mississippi and begin to see the state in a different light then the campaign has accomplished what the agency set out to do.
Not only has the campaign taken print media by storm, but through an agreement with the Mississippi Department of Education, each school in the state received the 14-poster set of the “Mississippi … Believe It!” campaign. Looser said that some teachers have incorporated the posters into the classroom by requiring students to study the individuals depicted on the posters and read works by the authors mentioned on the “Yes, we can read. A few of us can even write” poster.
To view the full campaign check it out online at www.mississippibelieveit.com.
You better ‘Believe It’
By Lacey Walters