Misleading Marketing

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to go to Nashville, Tennessee. My trip to Nashville was for a work conference, and while I was excited to travel for work (as I usually am), I was not exactly excited to be going to Nashville.  You see, the first thing I think of when I think of Nashville is something like this.

Image credit to Celine on Flickr.
Image credit to Celine on Flickr.

There’s a joke I tend to make reference to when a friend of mine brings up their affinity for country music. Ere are many iterations of the joke, but it goes a little like this.

Q: What do you get when you play a country song backwards?

A: A happy man who gets his wife and dog back, as well as a functional truck, all while overcoming alcoholism.

Nashville strongly markets itself to be the country music capital of the world. As they rightly should. After all, the city is home to the Grand Ole Opry, numerous country music stars, and the largest volume of sweet tea per capita in the world((No idea if this is actually true, but it felt true. And it was delicious.)). But beneath the surface, you have a city that is completely not country music like at all. And by that, I mean it doesn’t suck.

The above table and food remnants are from a dinner we had after our event. The restaurant in question is a place by the name of Sambuca. The sky loft area that we were in was swanky enough that the above picture prompted my fiancée to ask me if I was actually in Nashville or in a club in Miami. I sent her the following picture of the Nashville skyline to assure her that I was not, in fact, clubbing with Pitbull((No one wants to party with Pitbull. Even Pitbull.)).

There’s wonderful entertainment in Nashville. They have a NFL team that’s not terrible, a NHL team that’s pretty good, on of the most prestigious universities in America (Vanderbilt), and a full-scale replica of the Parthenon. Ignore the fact that Nashville is like Athens, Greece in the same way that ice cream is like Tabasco sauce. There’s some really cool shit in Nashville.

And yet…this is what Nashville markets itself as.

Image credit to Celine on Flickr.
Image credit to Celine on Flickr.

It’s a shame too. Nashville could easily market itself as Little New Orelans (due to its reputation as a party city) or a less drug-infested Miami. That said, the city seems content sitting on its roots. That’s fine for some, but to me, it seems like a giant waste of potential.

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13 thoughts on “Misleading Marketing

  1. Nashville is surprisingly cool. There is a really good music scene out of there that is NOT country music too.

    Also, I think Jack White lives there. Which…I mean despite him having good taste, and that being an implication of how cool Nashville is, the fact that he lives there makes it like 50,000 times more alluring.

    For me anyway.

    Sorry, I’ll put away my Jack White boner now.

    Anyway yeah, Nashville rocks!! I think you’re right that they’d do well to market themselves better. I should move there and convince the city to hire me as their tourism marketing person. And then sneak into City Hall and find Jack White’s address.

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    1. I mean…if there was anyone I expected to comment on this post while having a Jack White boner, you were the first person who came to mind.

      It definitely does seem like a cool city. I wish I had felt a bit better while I was there, as I think I would have enjoyed it more. That said, the city is very much in your face about how important country music is to the city — which is a shame, as it hides everything else the city is doing well.

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      1. Totally!!! It’s cool for a lot of people, but it’s a total turnoff for people who don’t like country music.

        It’s a shame too because there is seriously SO MUCH other music there. Rock, jazz, blues, electronic, even that mountain-folk style country music (which I just find so much more appealing than the Kenny Chesney kind).

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        1. I think I’d like country music a lot more if it wasn’t for the twang and steel guitars. It takes a lot of talent to play a steel guitar in a manner that doesn’t sound like nails on a chalkboard, and most country songs don’t have that. It’s just a very awkward instrument.

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  2. Ah, but did you come away with that banjo? These are the crucial questions.

    Niagara Falls, Canada side. No one told us they’d covered the surrounding area in tat Blackpool would be proud of. Look at this big natural phenomenon, it’s beautiful, the colours, the sounds, it isn’t enough – lets attempt Las Vegas but on a budget (i.e. Blackpool). Whoever came up with the Falls laser show is a terrible person.

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    1. I did not come away with a banjo. If I want a banjo, I know of at least two members of my extended family who have them. I could just borrow one from them.

      I’ve never been to Niagara Falls on either side of the border. I just don’t see the appeal to looking at water falling great distances.

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      1. Aw, but then it’s not your banjo, it’s theirs.

        Each to their own. We were more passing through on our way to MI (was cheaper to fly into Toronto and drive down), and spent a night. If that wasn’t the case, I’m not sure I’d have flown over to specifically see it, but it was a beautiful sight. Just a shame it was surrounded by tat.

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  3. Wow, that is surprising. I’ve never been to Nashville, but my parents have retired to the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. It’s pretty country-esque with all kinds of mom and pop shops and Dixie Stampede and whatnot… I kind of assumed that Nashville would be a like a bigger version of that.

    Also, A+ country music joke. That’s pretty much accurate for most country songs I hear.

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    1. I wasn’t expecting it either to be honest. I’ve been to Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge/Knoxville before and they’re all pretty much cut from the same cloth. Nashville appears to be growing up and growing out of that persona, but only with some level of reluctance.

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  4. I live close enough to Miami that I have zero desire to go to anywhere that would tout itself as “Cleaner” or “Less Cocaine Cowboyesque” Miami.

    That being said, I’ve been to Nashville and I loved it….in fact, I’m currently planning another trip there with my mom and sisters in the fall. Then again, I enjoy country music (the more modern rock-twinged country, rather than the old-school, super-twangy country). The area has some gorgeous sites and I really enjoyed the history of it all, and the ability to watch into any bar and catch some high-quality live music (particularly from up-and-coming artists and bands) was rather appealing.

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    1. There did seem to be a pretty thriving music scene in Nashville independent of whether it was country music or not. That’s kind of my point. For a city that focuses so much on its country roots, it has SO MUCH more going for it.

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  5. Okay, so I *PROMISE* I will get to a point where I do not always have to play catch-up on reading blogs. But at least today, I am going to get caught up on yours!

    I’ll admit, one of the big selling points for me about Nashville is the country side (I love Country, although only at certain times during the year). That being said, I’ve also heard a lot of similar things about Nashville like what you’ve shared, and I would LOVE to see the other side of it too. If we are able to drive down to Disney one year, I’m thinking on the way down, we might make a detour to Nashville, instead of stopping elsewhere in Tennessee.

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    1. Well, if it’s any consolation, being gone on my honeymoon has left me almost two weeks behind on my blog comments. It’s my turn to flood your inbox as a result. Apologies in advance.

      If you plan to stop somewhere in Tennessee that isn’t Nashville (I recommend Nashville first), I would see Knoxville. It’s a beautiful city and a bit more country that Nashville without being too touristy. Avoid Gaitlinburg and Pidgeon Forge like the plague. They’re tourist hellholes that can literally take hours to drive through due to traffic.

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