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Bemidji mayor offended by how state's new MNSure ads portray Paul Bunyan as a "doofus"

The state's suggestion that Bunyan is not only mortal but also clumsy doesn't sit well with Bemidji officials.
The state's suggestion that Bunyan is not only mortal but also clumsy doesn't sit well with Bemidji officials.

-- Update at bottom --

From the Taking Yourself Too Seriously files:

Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht is offended by how the state's new MNSure health exchange ads have fun with Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox, two Minnesota folk heroes that are closely associated with their huge roadside statues in Bemidji.

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What exactly does she find offensive, you might ask? Nothing more than the mere suggestion that Paul is a bit clumsy and prone to accidents that require a trip to the hospital.

BBDO Proximity, the local ad agency that put together the campaign, considered three celebrity candidates as possible stars of the MNSure spots. Ultimately, they concluded Paul and Babe "resonated with people in six regions around the state" in a way the other contenders didn't, the Star Tribune reports.

Here are a couple of images from the campaign, which is intended to make Minnesotans aware of the new service that allows those in the market for health care insurance to compare coverage options and providers via an online database:

Bemidji mayor offended by how state's new MNSure ads portray Paul Bunyan as a "doofus"
Bemidji mayor offended by how state's new MNSure ads portray Paul Bunyan as a "doofus"

In comments made to the Bemidji Pioneer, Mayor Albrecht, asked for her opinion ads like the ones above, said, "I think they're offensive, some of them, and I think they're inappropriate... and I would prefer some of them not be used."

Her sentiments are shared by Lori Paris, president of the Bemidji Area Chamber of Commerce.

"Paul has been our icon for so many years that you think of that particular Paul, you think of Bemidji," Paris told the Pioneer. "But now when you see him running into a tree and falling over, it just looks foolish I think."

"I think it's a hit to our community image," Paris concluded.

You know what else doesn't help the community image? Media coverage of Bemidji officials' butthurt over how Paul freakin' Bunyan is portrayed in a silly ad campaign.

:::: UPDATE ::::

According to a Pioneer Press report, Mayor Albrecht has already softened her opposition to the ads:

"To have him be a doofus, it doesn't make sense for us," Albrecht said in an interview Monday morning. "We kind of think of Paul as stately and handsome and representing a proud era of timber production in our community."

But by Monday afternoon, Albrecht's message had changed.

"When we first saw (the ads), we thought: What?" she said in a second interview. "But as we thought about it more, we think it's positive that people recognize Paul and Babe as important, and that people like that."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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