A couple weeks ago ‘Jersey Shore’ was awarded a $420,000 in a tax break that New Jersey residents will have to pick up the cost. (Note: Governor, Chris Christie, veteod the tax credit a few weeks after the news broke stating, “As chief executive, I am duty-bound to ensure that taxpayers are not footing a $420,000 bill for a project which does nothing more than perpetuate misconceptions about the state and its citizens.”) New Jersey residents and other outsiders have given harsh criticisms of the show and its reputation. Shows such as Jerseylicious, Jersey Shore, and the Real Housewives have spread awareness about the state, but it has also come with negative stereotypes and degrading jokes.
The reality TV show, ‘Jersey Shore’ has been a phenomenon of its own. The cast has fascinated fans and audiences since 2009 with its outrageous fist-pumping and “Gym-Tan-Laundry (GTL)” lifestyle. (By the way, I ‘defriend’ anyone that has embraced the GTL lifestyle.) It has brought widespread awareness to the small, densely populated coastal state. However, that awareness has been a bad PR nightmare for the state’s tourism marketing department. Not only have the show and others of its like brought publicity, but they’ve also given the state a bad stigma.
This case is particularly significant to advertising, public relations, and marketing that have attachments to the state of New Jersey. Brands will have a challenge breaking the schemas individuals have of the state after viewing or hearing about the various reality TV shows encompassing New Jersey. It will be increasingly important for them to differentiate themselves from the reality shows and the portrayals in them. The mayor of Seaside Heights mentions that the show brings in a lot of business, which helps their economy. However, it is important for the town and state to think of the future ramifications of the TV shows. This case is a perfect example of over-positioning. Once tourists and outsiders have a schema on New Jersey it will be hard to change their thoughts on the state. Long after the ‘Jersey Shore’ is finished fist-pumping their way into our flat-screen TVs, we’ll still remember the obnoxious and ill-mannered ‘GTL’ clan and relate it to anything affiliated with New Jersey.