Memo to self: some marketing campaigns are best not launched on April Fools day.
After watching a bunch of pranks today (Goolge ,er, Topekia being my favorite), I saw a story about a New York State Senator launching a campaign to tell kids not to wear pants that sag. No more "Pants on the ground."
In the midst of a financial and governance crisis, a state senator seeks to galvanize the public about... pants. That would be April Fools fodder, right? Senators and Pants. Those very words together are the stuff comedians live for. And then there is his YouTube "Stop The Sag" Video. I watched it waiting for the punch line... and wondering," is it Saturday Night Live?" or is it real?
Ok, turns out its a serious campaign. State Senator Eric Adams thinks that one of the stupidest and most demeaning things African American kids can do is wear their pants down by their knees and turn this into fashion. Its bad enough for someone else to demean you, but to dress up like a fool and demean yourself messes with your self image and sends out the message that its ok if others think less of you. It perpetuates stereotypes. He's right. The video does a good job of tying the current pants silliness to historic racist images. Senator Adams gives a great history lesson on the relationship of design, icons and propaganda to discrimination and self-deprication.
If his campaign had been about girls not dressing in a too provocative manner I would have instantly recognized it as a serious education campaign. Whats truly staggering is that our nation has a "pants on the ground" public health problem in the first place. Its a strange "Jim Crow meets Monthy Python" mash-up thats spreading as a not so subtle form of racism and lack of self respect.
I think launching the campaign on April Fools Day only confused their important effort. . On the other hand, we live in such ironic times that you just can't tell whether its a joke or damn serious when the State throws a massive fashion fit over pants. And thats the kind of thing that commands a lot of popular culture attention!