Just when I thought the Utah State Fair had developed a wicked sense of humor, it wilts like a third-place dahlia arrangement when it determines its 2010 TV ad campaign makes people uncomfortable.
Upon seeing the fair's two ads that featured a 1970s-era R&B singer riffin' on the deliciousness of Utah's big country fair, I was impressed. The joke being, here are two things that don't go together: a Tim Meadows ladies man in wacky urbane attire singing his lovin' lyrics about funnel cakes and farm animals. Makes no sense -- but not without loopy charm.
And it had Napoleon Dynamite filmmaker Jared Hess' fingerprints all over it, because loopy charm is his thang. Hess had previously won the hearts and minds of all "fair"minded people when he repurposed Napoleon for the 2005 state fair campaign. So this year, the fair must have given him carte blanche and told him, "Go do something funny like you did before and win some more awards."
Well, they can't all be winners.
The fair board claimed it hadn't vetted the ads and pulled the TV ads, telling The Salt Lake Tribune it was the sexual overtones of the songs that put them off. However, Hess points out in the Trib article that the same audio track of the ads continues to air on radio. So what's the "rub"? Could it be the vision of "Ladies Man" crooning double entendres while groovin' and movin' to the beat?
The actor's moves were nothing compared to the footwork of the fair's board chairman Lorin Moench. Struggling in the Trib article to explain the board's decision to pull a $22,000 ad campaign without saying phrases like "too black" or "too sexy" for Utah, he finally stammered: “We felt that the ads didn’t meet the demographics that we felt need to happen. We are trying to get families to come to the fair and to represent the agriculture interests of the state.”
It's bad enough the ads are gone and Utah is once again going to be a laughing stock--this time of the state fair circuit (something a 4-H lovin' state like Utah should not have to endure). But $22,000 represents a lot of $9 admission tickets. And, now being forced to watch the cow grooming re-runs from two years ago? Knowing where those sweet-faced bovines were headed, post fair auction -- destined to become quarter-pounders and Whoppers? I guess I prefer Ladies Man's lyrical lust for ribs and ham hocks.
This year's fair, themed "Uncommonly Good," is underway through Sept. 19. Go anyway.
Note: the USF did such a thorough job removing the ads, the only ones remaining on YouTube that still work are courtesy of the Trib. They might not last, either:
Leon Phelps (aka Ladies Man): Listen, I was wondering. Can I ask you a question? Uh... was your father a meat burglar? Here's why I ask: because it looks like somebody stole two fine hams and shoved them down the back of your dress.