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Sioux Falls on Coronavirus: Don’t Worry, “Get Out There”!

In the stupidest marketing move of the summer, the City of Sioux Falls and the Chamber of Commerce are spending money in the midst of a pandemic to tell everyone, “Get Out There!

Elect a marketing guru as mayor, expect marketing instead of better public policy. And expect the marketers to say you can’t undermine manliness by putting masks on any men (notice that the only people shown wearing masks in the video are women and children… and don’t think the marketers, the most image-conscious people in the world, didn’t intend that).

SF Development Foundation honcho Bob Mundt says the boosters of this “Spark Sioux Falls” project “wanted to strike the right balance between instilling consumer confidence while being sensitive to the need for safety precautions while going out.” But their website (of course, someone sold them a website) shows the balance they want subordinates being safe and smart to getting people out of their houses and money out of their wallets:

SF message: GET OUT THERE (be safe be smart)
In order of importance: new inscrutable logo, bold call to get and shop, caution as a visual whisper. Screen cap from, retrieved 2020.07.01.

Mayor Paul TenHaken says “Spark Sioux Falls will rekindle the economic fire of our city“:

But exhorting people to Get Out There™ is more likely to spark the fire of more coronavirus infections, as seems to be made pretty clear by the coincidence of ill-advised attempts to reopen state economies and the nation’s new single-day record of new coronavirus cases (48,000+).

Could we just be honest about Mayor TenHaken’s real message to his people, that boosting the economy is more important than any practical pro-life advice?

Death We're On It SF TenHaken
A Twitter friend suggests this interpretation of Sioux Falls’s new marketing pitch.

South Dakota: Land of Infinite Variety of Bad Marketing.


  1. Teresa 2020-07-01 09:43

    And they are calling it a PSA? *How* is this a Public Service Announcement…? I don’t see anything in this ad that constitutes what a PSA is normally intended for… this is just a push for purely economic reasons. Gross.

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-07-01 09:47

    Good point, Teresa. There’s no guidance to the public in this video, no helpful advice on concrete steps to take to avoid infection or deal with economic hardship. It’s straight-up Chamber of Commerce marketing.

  3. Donald Pay 2020-07-01 09:59

    People with no respect for themselves elect people who have no respect for them. They are getting exactly what they voted for: someone who values money over family, health and lives.

    Cory, you are absolutely right about this marketing of death. TenHaken’s macabre values are perfectly encapsulated in this ad campaign. That Logo, particularly, includes a stylized “$” sign. You know that’s what matters to him. To me, however, that opened up “$” appears to be draining the de-oxygenated blood out of a pale corpse. The health and life of your loved ones means not even a penny to him.

    With such a man as mayor, you might want to change that marketing effort into “Be Smart. Be Safe. Get Out Of Here”

  4. arielmn 2020-07-01 10:05

    Donald, I saw the logo as a meat grinder, churning you into the system for Phase 3 Profit!

  5. Donald Pay 2020-07-01 10:28

    arieImn, Yeah, I can see that. It also looks like a stylized lower intestine. Sh*t happens, especially if you “Get Out There”.

    Whether it’s dollars, meat or sh*t, it’s just a bad idea. If TenHaken thinks this is his goddam job, he’s very, very bad at it. He ought to resign before he kills more people.

  6. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-07-01 10:35

    Dollar sign, meat grinder, intestines… yes! Please, keep this metaphorical analysis going!

  7. Chris S. 2020-07-01 17:25

    Cory, thanks for the link to the pledge to the state flag (?!). I didn’t know we had something so dumb or unnecessary.

    “I pledge loyalty and support to the flag and State of South Dakota, land of sunshine, land of infinite variety.”

    Um, no. I pledge no such thing to “the flag . . . of South Dakota.” Why does the flag need my support? Can it not seek gainful employment and support itself? I shall not have our glorious state flag on the dole! Harrumph!

    Kidding aside, our state flag is a terrible design: Lots of writing and a cluttered state seal. As others have noted, a flag should be easily identifiable from a distance away. It should not require you to get up close and read words in a circle to determine if it’s Delaware or New Jersey or South Dakota’s seal you’re looking at. Two things make our flag distinct: 1) the sky blue color, as opposed to navy blue used on many others, and 2) the yellow sun. We could simplify the flag to be a yellow sun, or even just a yellow circle representing the sun, on a sky blue background. Presto! Our flag would stand out, and there’d be no need for squinting to read if the state motto is in English or Latin, or to see if that little smudgey drawing is a smokestack or a guy with a plow.

  8. Eve Fisher 2020-07-01 17:50

    The most honest person I ever saw was back in the a televangelist called Reverend Ike, in 1970’s Atlanta, who had a half-hour TV show on Sunday nights. He gave a sermon, had some singing, and then sat down on a throne and said, “Now what I want you to do, what I need you to do, is sit right down and you send me your money today! You write that check right now, and send it to me at ___” And they did. At least he was honest.

  9. Nix 2020-07-01 18:13

    I had a friend ask me to grab lunch today in Sioux Falls. Called out a restaurant, told me that he and two other guys I know will join us.
    I called him back and passed on lunch because I am not ready to sit in a crowded room with strangers yet.
    Prudent or paranoid?
    He thinks I’m nuts.
    I think he’s nuts.
    Stay safe people.
    There are Human Beings out there.

  10. Eve Fisher 2020-07-01 18:16

    I’m with you, Nix. I haven’t eaten indoors in a restaurant since this thing started, and I’m not going to until we get a vaccine. And I mean, I actually can get a vaccine.

  11. Debbo 2020-07-01 18:47

    Or part of a maze. We’ll get you in there and you can’t get out.

    Good thing Ten Haken is a good Christian. Otherwise he’d probably be like Texas Lt. Gov. Patrick. He thinks old people ought to be willing to die for the sake of the economy. TH is much more subtle.

  12. Southdacola 2020-07-01 19:00

    Oh and guess who is doing the campaign? Click Rain, Paul’s former agency

  13. jerry 2020-07-01 19:06

    Oklahoma passes Medicaid Expansion! Man, that’s a big deal. If South Dakota wants citizens to “Get out there”, it better have a plan on treating those that do get sick. The one thing GNOem did that was slick, was to lottery those tickets to the sickfest on the 3rd at Rushmore. Probably most of those folks will be from out of state so they will not count on the South Dakota Covid scoreboard as these guys will be home when they croak. Sure, our virus rates will go up, but that’s the price to be paid to work in Keystone and in downtown Rapid City business. I wouldn’t go into a restaurant in the Black Hills for the rest of the year, bad enough just going grocery shopping.

    “In Oklahoma, a state Donald Trump won by a 36-point margin in 2016, voters went to the polls on Tuesday and narrowly approved a referendum to finally accept the expansion of Medicaid provided by the Affordable Care Act, allowing for an estimated 200,000 low-income Oklahomans to get health coverage.

    Don’t tell them, but the other name for the ACA is “Obamacare.”

    I joke — of course they know that. That’s why it took so long: Republican leaders, like those in other states, were not just willing but eager to hurt their own citizens and damage their state’s economy if it meant they could give President Barack Obama the finger. It took a grass-roots organizing effort to put the question on the ballot and overcome the opposition of the state’s political leadership, which is entirely Republican.” Paul Waldman, Washington Post 7.1.20

  14. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-07-01 19:16

    Prudent, Nix. I’m attending a wedding soon. The service is outdoors, so I’ll take Mayor Paul’s advice and get out there. But I’m staying out when everyone else goes to the dinner indoors. I’m barely comfortable going indoors to Aberdeen restaurants to pick up a takeout order; there’s no way I’ll sit with my family indoors for an hour breathing recycled air.

    Mayor Paul’s video clips encouraging restaurant dining are irresponsible. Why encourage citizens to jeopardize public health by engaging in nonessential indoor activities?

  15. grudznick 2020-07-01 19:20

    Mr. H, you’re a healthy young man and you need your nourishment. Proudly march into those restaurants and get your food, and at the wedding, just don’t dance as much as usual and see if they’ll give you your food to sit out in the yard.

  16. jerry 2020-07-01 19:35

    California just shut down 19 county’s for 3 weeks, you just know they will be coming here.

    “SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered bars and indoor dining at restaurants to close in most areas of the state for the next three weeks amid a troubling surge of new coronavirus cases throughout the state.

    The revised stay-at-home order affects 19 counties where nearly three-quarters of the state’s roughly 40 million people live — including Los Angeles County.

    Newsom says indoor operations at restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, family entertainment centers, movie theaters, zoos and museums and cardroom gambling businesses must close. Bars were ordered to close both indoor and outdoor operations.”

  17. Debbo 2020-07-01 21:02

    Great news about Oklahoma. Idaho had to do the same thing. That group, Reclaim Idaho, continues to fight their own GOP legislature as it tries every dirty trick in the book to thwart the citizens’ will. OK lege will probably do the same.

  18. Debbo 2020-07-01 23:47

    Friends, read this, the whole thing, and feel proud to be an American.

  19. Eve Fisher 2020-07-02 09:55

    I keep thinking of the Argus Leader’s lead story last week of the reopening of the Crow Bar on Minnesota Ave. – complete with photos of people celebrating, not social distancing, etc.

    Meanwhile, this latest surge of the First Wave is hitting the 20-40 year olds the hardest – and a lot of them are ending up in hospitals. So, be careful, Nix. We need as many people as possible to stay alive and unhospitalized.

  20. o 2020-07-02 18:22

    The United States is a business — not a society.

  21. David Bergan 2020-07-03 17:11

    “The United States is a business — not a society.”

    Hi o,

    You probably weren’t thinking along these lines, but the first thing that came to my mind when I read your comment, is how businesses would never elect their leaders by electoral college. Stockholders vote to elect the directors, and the directors hire the CEO. In that system, “Congress” has all the power, chooses someone they can work with, and fires him when he stops being effective. He serves at the pleasure of the board. It’s an efficient system and I’ve often wondered why governments do it differently. Tradition, probably.

    I think the Board of Directors-CEO model would give us less polarization, gridlock, and demagoguery. Parliamentary systems are kind of like that, I think. It’s easier to pass a vote of no confidence than Presidential impeachment, anyway.

    Why did our Founding Fathers make it so difficult to remove a bad President? I know people will reply by invoking the “co-equal” branches of government, but what’s the sense in making them co-equal? It’s a lot easier for one person to abuse power than a committee. Congress has oversight duties over the executive, but the Constitution could have been more explicit in giving both chambers of Congress the unquestioned authority to fire and jail any executive branch employee who doesn’t comply with a Congressional subpoena.

    Kind regards,

  22. o 2020-07-03 17:46


    Board make up is becoming a hot topic. More pressure is being put on boards to have representation from their labor force — that would be a recognition of electing more inclusive representation of the company’s stakeholders to chart the company’s direction.

    Your analysis of the BOD being “congress” is interesting, but wouldn’t the board be acting as an “Electoral College” in your example? People elect the people who elect the leader. I am all for a parliamentarian, multiparty system over this two-party-winner-take-all-plurality system we have now.

    The Founding Fathers did not make it that difficult to remove a corrupt leader, partisan politics did that. Again, ignoring the public good for self preservation is a business model of thinking.

    My point was more about the purpose of business versus the purpose of a society. The United States is not just “in the business of business” but narrowed to a singular focus on squeezing a profit (for the owners) over any dedication to the common good. We have fallen into the psychopathic pursuit of profit over public health welfare; exploitation over resource stewardship. The COVID crisis and current reopening has made this evermore clear that we are NOT all in this together.

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