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South Carolina ‘So Gay’ Campaign: Who Really Did What?


Employee forced to resign was not ‘low level’


This article is only available in English on this site.  For online instant translation in selected languages, see below.




  See Also Q-Notes, the LGBT publication for The Carolinas, which has a long interview with Andrew Roberts of Amro plus further details of developments in South Carolina.  The article is by Gareth Fenley  

LONDON, July 22, 2008  –  There was further intrigue in the ongoing saga over the ‘So Gay’ poster campaign on two London Underground stations that the South Carolina Parks Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT) Department has been involved in during the past two weeks, it emerged this evening.

And there is considerable doubt over some statements that were made last week in South Carolina.

According to Out Now, the agency that created the ‘So Gay’ advertising campaign for gay travel specialist, Amro Worldwide, there have been incorrect statements made by the office headed by Chad Prosser of the SCPRT.

“The employee forced to resign is by no means a ‘low level’ employee, as was very widely reported last week by official SCPRT spokespeople,” said Ian Johnson, chief executive officer of Out Now.

“That person who approved the ‘So Gay’ advertising campaign, and was later forced to resign by SCPRT, is the International Sales Manager, responsible for the UK a person with more than a decade of management experience and an immense amount of respect within the global tourism marketing community,” Mr. Johnson revealed.

[While Mr. Johnson declined to name the employee, Q-Notes tonight names him as Randolph Romaine, an international sales manager responsible for the U.K. market and others, a class three economic development manager according to other state documents”, according to Q-Notes.]

“To hear reports that a ‘low level’ employee resigned gives the public the wrong impression that this campaign did not get approved by proper decision making channels,” he added.

“That is not the case.  The correct decision maker made a business decision to proceed with the campaign.  There is no way this person can be described as ‘low level’.

“At all times everyone involved in the process – Out Now, Amro Worldwide, the SCPRT London reps and the International Sales Manager at SCPRT made decisions based on what is best for increasing revenues for the South Carolina tourism industry.

“What changed two weeks ago is that politicians decided to involve themselves, and it was then that a resignation was forced with the ‘official’ reports emanating from the office headed by Chad Prosser being that this employee was a ‘low level’ one,” he said.

According to the chief executive of Amro Worldwide, Andrew Roberts, his company have been paid in full for the campaign.  Last week, both politicians and official in the State capital Columbia publicly said that the bill of just under $5,000 would not be paid.

“Amro Worldwide has received full payment from the London representatives of SCPRT, a company called Travel and Tourism Marketing – TTM World – who have acted in the utmost good faith at every stage in the advertising approval process,” said Mr. Roberts.

“Amro Worldwide is currently considering reimbursing TTM World for their loss, but we think it quite disgraceful that an official State government body would behave in this manner.

“Not paying representatives and forcing a senior manager to resign seems out of all proportion with our simple but effective gay travel marketing campaign.

“On top of all that, it saddens me that the hard working folk in the SC tourism industry, who this campaign was designed to help, look set to suffer loss for years to come due to the homophobic reaction of their elected representatives,” Mr. Roberts added.

Mr. Johnson said the saga looked like “a clear case of political interference, pure and simple.

“In an election year, in a ‘red’ [Republican] State, you have politicians thinking there might be a few votes in a bit of gay bashing.

“Not a good look for the majority of South Carolinians who, judging from the many supportive messages received by both Out Now and Amro Worldwide, are appalled by the conduct of their elected representatives.”

Last week, the organisers of South Carolina Gay Pride launched a fundraising campaign to raise the $5,000 that the State is refusing to pay as, according to Ray Wilson “the ‘word’ of South Carolina can’t be trusted – we believe it is the right thing to do, to repay this debt.”

In five days, the appeal has raised just over $1,000.

The fundraising will continue, said Pride spokesperson Ryan Wilson.  “The London representative of SCPRT has paid Amro, but the State Treasurer’s Office has not paid Travel and Tourism Marketing – TTM World,” he pointed out.


‘Knowingly Incorrect Info’ From S.C. Officials, Say Brit ‘So Gay’ Ad ExecsPursuing a deal to advertise South Carolina as “so gay,” tourism officials in the state hosted a visit to showcase gay-friendly hotels, bars, and beaches, two European executives told Q-Notes.  (Q-Notes, July 22, 2008)

South Carolina ‘Will Be So Gay’ Campaign Launched Today.  The Board of the South Carolina Pride Movement has decided to raise the $5,000 necessary to pay the debt owed by the state for the “South Carolina is so gay” ads created for London Gay Pride Week. (UK Gay News, July 17, 2008)

S.C. Governor Demands Personnel and Procedure Changes in Tourism FracasBy Gareth Fenley.  When South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford learned that his state was being advertised as a gay tourism destination, he ordered a Cabinet-level department head “to do the right thing personnel-wise or process-wise to ensure this does not happen again,” Sanford’s spokesman Joel Sawyer told Q-Notes.  (Q-Notes, July 17, 2008)

Sanford Is So StupidEditorial.  What the hell happened and how’d it happen so fast? One minute, South Carolina’s going about its “Dixie”-whistling ways and the next it’s busting out with Barbara Streisand show tunes and musicals. Then, out of no where, the politicians take over and the Pink Palmetto is slammed back in the closet.  (Q-Notes, July 17, 2008)

Gay Travel Advertising Campaign in London Upsets South Carolina Politicians.  American politicians overseeing the body responsible for South Carolina tourism have come down against an advertising campaign currently running in the UK directed towards lesbian and gay travellers.  (UK Gay News, July 14, 2008)

Ad Campaign on London Underground Breaks Down Sting of ‘So Gay’ As Insult.  A new travel company poster campaign launched today in London’s Underground network is set to smash through the supposed insult value of “so gay”, by reclaiming the term as part of an advertising slogan.  (UK Gay News, June 27, 2008)



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.  

Posted: 22 July 2008 at 22:30 (UK time)


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