You've Got a Bud in Boise

New Experiences in Finding the Friendliest Place in America

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Since stepping out on my own a few months ago, I've found myself fortunate in many ways. Several people approached me following my announcement, relaxing the need to pitch business often. As mentioned in earlier posts, I'm currently at work on some pretty interesting projects, namely spots for Tamarack Resort, an all-season haven just two hours north of Boise, Idaho.
Doug Zanger Doug Zanger
Boise is a sleepy hamlet tucked under the comforting blanket of its namesake mountain range, which keeps sentry to the north. Most of you know Boise for its homegrown potatoes, the local state college's remarkable play in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl or as the capital of the state with the smallest carbon footprint in the country.

Outside of that, Idaho seems content with its anonymity. I can relate. When I tell people I'm from Oregon, they conjure up images of a no-man's-land, forever ensconced in pioneer lore and endless rain. It's a reaction that says, "Aww, how cute."

But with frequent trips, I'm finding that Boise -- and Idaho in general -- are really friendly places. After arriving in town last week just one microphone short, I stopped at the local Best Buy for a few bare essentials. I was amazed to see four parking spots marked "Reserved for Expectant Mothers" just steps from the retailer's entrance. Seemed as if four of the eight original spots reserved for handicapped persons had been repurposed. I'd witnessed such antics at Babies "R" Us, but never outside a consumer electronics giant. With four dedicated spots, I thought, there must be a run on pregnant women in Boise. The Jersey boy in me was moderately amused when an elderly couple pulled up to one of the spots and shook their heads in disappointment.

The folks at Best Buy were incredibly polite. Even when they couldn't locate the microphone I came in search of, they offered a dozen directions to alternative products. It was akin to having a Garmin Street Pilot with a smile. Didn't find the mic at Wal-Mart, either, but I was prompted to rate the friendliness of my cashier upon exiting. Not surprisingly, service was superb.

The drive up north to Tamarack is quite beautiful -- so beautiful, in fact, that I lost track of how fast I was going, and ended up getting pulled over. I was miffed, but the county police were overtly polite and -- you guessed it -- friendly. How could you be upset with an officer who starts his spiel with a smile and a "Wow, it's really nice out today, isn't it?" (You'll note it is very rare that I get traffic tickets, unlike a certain sibling of mine, who seems to collect them like Derek Jeter rookie cards.)

Just outside the resort, I was greeted by thousands of sheep headed up the main road to Tamarack. It struck me as odd that the herders and the sheep seemed pleasantly surprised to see me.

By now, you're probably wondering what any of this has to do with advertising. To me, it illustrates how experiences can shape creative ideas and business strategy for a client. It's about the choices companies (or in this case, an entire state) make, how the rest of the world perceives them and how traditional channels and word-of-mouth communicate them.

I could tell similar stories about Haddonfield, N.J.; my barista at Albertsons; and Portland International Airport. But for now, Boise takes center stage in my mind as one of the friendliest places in the country.

Quick Hits

What is the friendliest place/company you know? How does that affect your perception of it/them? Do you share your experiences with people you know?

Do you know any advertisers that position themselves as friendly? If so, who are they?

Ever been to Idaho? What did you think?

Headed this way? I can hook you up with a sweet tri-state itinerary (that's Oregon, Idaho and Washington).
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