It wasn't the first time I've needed a joke explained to me -- it happens pretty much every time I accidentally read Marmaduke and end up feeling baffled and vaguely upset. But while I'm at this point accustomed to not getting the jokes of that zany Dane, I generally expect advertising jokes to be more coherent -- they do, after all, have to sell a product. That's why, when I spotted a billboard for the City of Golden sporting a picture of what appeared to be a man with his face slathered in shaving cream, and subsequently spent the next hour trying to understand, like Double Rainbow guy, what does it mean, I put on my sleuth hat and got on the case.
My first call went out to Karlyn Tilley, the City of Golden's communications director -- if there was anyone who could help, it was her.
But "I can't" was all she could say when I asked her to lay it out for me. "I saw that one too and I didn't understand it, either," she added. She wasn't alone -- the rest of Westword's editorial staff was just as confused as we were. See if you can parse it out:
Helpfully, Tilley referred me to Steve Glueck, Golden's Director of Planning and Development and the guy who oversees the city's marketing efforts -- which, as it turns out, are not funded by tax dollars, but rather by Golden's private business community. Here's how he elucidated: "Apparently," he said, "That fellow decided to pick up his kayak and go to Golden on the spur of the moment, before he even finished shaving."
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Oooh, so it was like... what?
The billboard, Glueck explained, is part of a larger campaign that targets metro-area "staycationers" to drop what they're doing and head to Golden for a couple of hours of good times. Because why not? Other billboards in the series depict a woman mountain-biking with curlers in her hair and a dad and daughter in downtown Golden, still in their "jammies," Glueck said.
That was when I started wishing, as I often do when my 7-year-old son explains Marmaduke to me, that I hadn't solicited an explanation. Nevertheless, Glueck pointed out that, by the city's estimates (which it calculates using "awareness surveys" and sales tax figures stacked up against neighboring cities, among other methods), the campaign has been successful.
On the other hand, he also mentioned that, within the next couple of weeks, the city will be interviewing five new advertising firms that have placed bids for the contract. Here's hoping none of them are Brad Anderson.