New Orleans is a mysterious city in ways that go beyond voodoo, above-ground cemeteries, swamp monsters, and secret recipes. Out-of-town ad agencies and other companies seeking to do business here find our city both bewitching and perplexing. Why? Because, like Dennis Quaid said in that awful Cajun accent in the Big Easy, “We do things differently down here, cher.”
So how do you market authentically to quite possibly the most authentic city in America? In a city that can smell BS even when the air is thick with crawfish boil?
1. Learn to talk dat talk
I’m always amazed at how often the name of our 300-year old city is mispronounced by advertisers – we are New Or-lins or New Or-le-ins – never New Or-leens unless you need to rhyme with “Do You Know What It Means?” And radio spots where announcers say “Me-tare-ee” instead of Metairie make us wince. Mostly, though, remember that New Orleanians don’t have a traditional southern accent – we don’t talk like Foghorn Leghorn here. If anything, we have a little Brooklynese going on. Also, we don’t end every sentence with “cher” (sorry Dennis).
New Orleans is pronounced [nəˈwɔəlɪnz], [nəˈwɔəliənz] or with the /ɻ/ still intact. The N’awlins’ [nɔəlɪnz] of the tourist industry and the common [nu ɔɻˈlinz] are not to be heard among natives. Louisiana can be pronounced as the standard [luˈiziænə] or a slightly reduced [ləˈwiziænə] in the ‘Yat’ dialect.
2. Discover our culcha’
When looking at the demographics of a specific area, we suggest you also do a deep dive into the culcha’ (culture) of the part of the city you’re marketing to. There’s Metry, the WesBank, Nort-Shore, Da Parish, Uptown, Back-a-Town, etc. And then there are the cities within the city… Algiers, Gretna, Westwego, Harra-han, Kenna Brah, Avondale, etc. that all sport separate and unique buying and selling cultures. Some of these areas are very tech-forward, and some only use technology to find fish. Know your market if you want it to know you. Oh, and do you know what they drink? Yes, Hurricanes are popular in the French Quarter, but you should also get familiar with the coffee New Orleans drinks.
3. Know thy neighbors
You can geotarget the “wealthy” in New Orleans, but a fair amount of your ad spend will also go to the people who live in the shotguns right next door to the mansions – to people who don’t have off-street parking, let alone the down payment on that “designo Selenite Grey Magno exterior 2020 AMG GT 63 S 4MATIC Mercedes-Benz.” New Orleans neighborhoods are a gumbo pot of diversity, which is good unless you’re trying to target one specific audience.
4. Follow The Black and Golden Rule
Nationally, Christmas is a big time to advertise but down here, there’s seafood season, festival season, Mardi Gras season (Jan-Feb), most importantly, Saints football season. In New Orleans, we “worship” a large group of sweaty men who play on hallowed ground known as the Superdome on Sundays. Being the “Official Anything of the New Orleans Saints” can be quite a coup – as long as the Saints are winning, of course. Nobody wants to be “Official Anything of the Ain’ts.”
5. Be Original
A Final Word of Advice
If you have any other questions about marketing in New Orleans, I’d suggest you move here ASAP and marry a local. It works for me. You are bound to be related to half the population then, and all mysteries about marketing and life in this great city, in general, will be solved.
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