March 23rd, 2011 By Jack Morton
Recently some fake ads were created for The Smithsonian museum in DC—calling out modern day pop culture people and saying (basically) they’ve got nothing on our hardcore historical figures. They got some good buzz on the Internet, but the museum (who did not know about these ads) immediately asked for the Smithsonian reference to be removed and wanted no association with them.
As a lover of history and humor and a marketer, I wonder if there was a bit of a lost opportunity here. The ads were done with respect and admiration to the institution but done in a fresh perspective that had people talking about the Smithsonian who would never give it a second thought before. And talking in a good way (always key). I mean, Teddy Roosevelt IS hardcore and isn’t it our job as historians (yes, my history degree and penchant for PBS allows me to say that) to present the past in a way that is accessible and relevant to the present?
Also hardcore? Warren G. Harding lost the White House china in a poker game played IN the White House. Admirable? Not really. But is it hardcore and does it perhaps give us insight into what a ridiculous president he was and why the country struggled while he was in office? Yes.