Attempting to make the best of several high-profile, disease-related deaths and other horrifying circumstances in the Volunteer State, the TN Department of Tourism announced they would temporarily adopt a Halloween-themed marketing campaign to lure ghoulish-minded tourists with the slogan “It’s Scary to Live in TN.”
“We in no way wish to disrespect the memory of the tragic victims of the recent Meningitis outbreak,” explained Joel Listley, a representative for the state’s Department of Tourism. “Nor do we wish to classify the recent death of a Nashville resident by West Nile Virus as anything other than equally tragic. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families. However, when so many people begin to die in a concentrated geographic region right before the spookiest holiday of the year, and they find killer fish in Smyrna at the same time, no self-respecting PR firm could allow themselves to pass up the opportunity to utilize that synergy.”
In recent weeks, tainted pharmaceuticals distributed from a Massachusetts manufacturer have resulted in, at press time, 15 deaths and 197 infections of fungal meningitis nationwide; of those, almost half of the deceased and more than a quarter of all reported infections were located in Tennessee. Also this week, an elderly Antioch resident was the first reported Davidson County death from West Nile Virus in almost a decade. Compounding these horrors is the discovery in September of a live piranha in a Smyrna portion of Percy Priest Lake, the second such fish to be found there in as many years.
Listley notes that the Department of Tourism is aware that some may find the new, temporary slogan to be in poor taste, but claims that his group is prepared to weather the criticism. “We’re old-hands at dealing with being called ‘classless’. Most of our staff’s been around since the eighties when our tourism commercials featured Dolly Parton standing on top of a giant peak in a mountain range. A three-year-old could figure out the subliminal symbolism we were going for there, but hey, it brought vacationers, so we knew at the end of the day we’d picked the right path. I think that’s what we’ll see here too”.
A kick-off event is scheduled for Friday at the Department of Tourism’s downtown offices, featuring local government officials dressed as monsters, scarecrows, and Bill Haslam in a “Sexy Big Bird” outfit.