Sometimes it is difficult to tell if publishers, other government entities and ordinary citizens really know or care where New Mexico is located. As an almost life-long citizen of this high desert place, I can provide solid reasons for my having the effrontery to ask such a question. But first a question. What significance does the image below have to or for the State of New Mexico:
The image is, of course, that of a Saguaro Cactus. Native to Arizona, the Saguaro in the image above, reminds one of the motto of Ferguson, Missouri protestors … “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.” What happened in Ferguson was traumatic to many people and there is no intent on our part to diminish that trauma. We are trying to fix something in the minds of errant users of the Saguaro to help them remember the Saguaro does not grow in New Mexico. Unless a Saguaro is transferred here by some cactus rustler for transplanting at the home of some millionaire’s mansion or ranch, you should never see one in New Mexico in a state of growth.
You will see the Saguaro used in New Mexico for many forms of advertising; including magazines, small and medium signs, storefronts, billboards, t-shirts, and other locations wherever folks might be in the business of promoting or selling. Many of the examples of such uses can be attributed to ignorance (not stupidity) or just plain shoddy research. Advertisers from other states and countries are the chief perpetrators and guilty parties in using the Saguaro to advertise for all things New Mexico. Such use is doubly sad, whether accounted to ignorance or laziness, and the Saguaro is likely used more than any other icon to advertise in New Mexico. This use is especially bad since New Mexico has a native cactus which is both stately and beautiful. Besides, it has the distinction of being the state flower of New Mexico. Below is an example of our state flower:
Nice and handsome and it goes with the terrain, unlike the silly Saguaro (sorry Arizonians) which just stands with its arms in the air and its nose misplaced. Anyway I want to show you another egregious use of the Saguaro in advertising New Mexico.
Some of you may be familiar with Dossier, a supplement to United Airlines in-flight magazine, Hemispheres. The supplement in this case, contains many nice photographs and accurate articles about New Mexico and its growth and advantages for business, living and tourism. They certainly deserve accolades for what they got right, but they deserve a flat of raspberries for what they got wrong. Wrong is the twenty-eight Saguaro cacti ensconced on the cover of the above issue.
Whether New Mexico paid for any part of the advertising in the supplement or everything was gratis, courtesy of United Airlines, I won’t speculate. It is a nice effort with lessons to be learned by advertising executives and their sales staff.