Thursday, June 11, 2009
In addition to marking another passing year of marriage, June is the month in which I moved my family to Illinois from Michigan, where I spent the first 32 years of my life. This June marks 18 years in the Land of Lincoln, although I don't think Honest Abe would be especially pleased with the place were he to visit these days, but I digress.
We all know about the economic troubles of the state. They've always been a part of the fabric. Michigan always seemed to be the first state to feel the effects when the economy soured. We were used to seeing the storm clouds roll in, and just as used to doing what we had to do until the storm passed.
My father introduced me to the incredible natural beauty of Michigan. Our family took summer vacation trips that, over time, crisscrossed the state and took us around the circumference of the state's shoreline on the Great Lakes. Together, we hiked woods, explored beaches, investigated the remains of Michigan's glacial history and ate a lot of s'mores.
Since the move to Illinois, Michigan has continued to dialog with my family via its tourism commercials. We'd see or hear one occasionally throughout the years and I'd think to myself, been there, done that, loved it.
A couple of years ago, the commercials took an abrupt turn. Instead of the upbeat, happy-happy invitations to explore the state, a poignant piano and orchestral score underlaid a voice that was at the same time new and familiar, reminding us about things we might have lost along the way and suggesting how to reclaim them via a visit to Michigan.
I've admired the commercials. The writing, the voice, the music. For three years, I produced and wrote a one-minute daily radio program for a non-profit organization. I admit that those Pure Michigan commercials were an influence on how I wrote many of the 400 spots I produced.
It was only recently that I had to know more about the Pure Michigan commercials -- the agency, the score, and especially the voiceover guy. He was so good at what he does, but why hadn't I heard him doing other commercials?
Okay, so the answers ... McCann-Erickson (always a powerhouse ad agency in the state), the Main Titles theme from the film The Cider House Rules and the biggest surprise for me ... Tim Allen, a fellow Michiganian whose voice is nearly unrecognizable from his Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor/Buzz Lightyear personas.
Those ads are like a postcard from home, a spot of sunlight for a guy who still points to a place on his upraised right hand when asked what part of the state he's from.
Photograph (taken near Kalamazoo) © 2009 James Jordan.