Raimondo: New logo in works, marketing director resigns

Embattled Rhode Island Commerce Corp. marketing director Betsy Wall has resigned, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced during a press conference on Friday.

Embattled Rhode Island Commerce Corp. marketing director Betsy Wall has resigned, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced during a press conference on Friday.

"It's unacceptable how many mistakes were made in this roll out," Raimondo said of the "Cooler and Warmer" tourism campaign. "We need to hold people accountable because Rhode Islanders deserve better. Taxpayers deserve better, and too many mistakes were made."

The governor said she spoke with Wall earlier this week and they agreed that she needed to resign.

Wall came under fire after a series of errors and mis-steps followed the unveiling of the campaign, which was designed to market Rhode Island to tourists and business leaders.

The "Cooler and Warmer" slogan has been criticized for being too difficult to interpret. There is also a logo depicting an abstract sail.

While Raimondo said the sail design will remain, the "Cooler and Warmer" tag line will be replaced.

"It's clear that people don't want that as our state's tag line, so we're not going to use it," Raimondo said.

But that's not all.

A video made to accompany Monday's marketing event was found to have had a two to three second shot of a skateboarder who appeared to be in Iceland, not Rhode Island.

When questioned by NBC 10 News on Wednesday, Wall said a variety of people approved the video, but also noted "I take ultimate responsibility."

Raimondo said her staff members had repeatedly asked where the clip was from, but they were wrongly told it was a location in Rhode Island.

"We're going to learn from those mistakes," Raimondo said. "We're going to fix them, and we're going to work hard to get this right for Rhode Island because this is important. This campaign matters. It's going to create jobs."

Raimondo went on to note that Rhode Island will be getting back more than $20,000 for the botched video, as well as an additional $100,000 from the public relations firm that was hired to coordinate the roll out.

She also said Seth Goldenberg, who is the founder and CEO at The Epic Decade in Jamestown, will serve as interim marketing director.

"We are going to move forward with our campaign," Raimondo said, also adding that starting next week, the public will have an opportunity to get involved with the campaign. "We are going to be releasing a social media kit for everybody to continue to make it theirs. Make it great. Make it fun. Most of all, make it your Rhode Island story. Help us to get this right."

The Commerce Corporation hired Wall in late December 2015 for a newly-created position of chief marketing officer. She had spent previously eight years running the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism.

The news of Wall's resignation was announced the same day Rep. Doreen Costa called for her termination.

"Ms. Wall, who lives in Massachusetts, and who has worked in the Bay State for nearly a decade, apparently has no idea what Rhode Island is about," Costa said in a press release.

Costa also noted that she believes Wall "did the job of a college intern, passing the buck when things go wrong. Wait, I take that back, college interns are more responsible than this. Therefore, and I know my fellow Rhode Islanders echo my feelings on this, Betsy Wall does not deserve her job or her salary and should be fired immediately. I call upon the governor to terminate Wall and give the job to an actual Rhode Islander. Our talent pool is immense, regardless of what the governor may think."

Raimondo's office said Wall's hiring was part of a concerted effort to create a positive statewide brand and lure new businesses.

Wall's salary was listed at $135,000. It was not disclosed how much money Goldenberg will earn as interim marketing director.

Nevertheless, Raimondo said she has listened to the people of Rhode Island and values the feedback.

"It is crystal clear to me that Rhode Islanders have a deep and abiding passion for our state," Raimondo said. "People love Rhode Island. I love Rhode Island. That's why we do what we do. And that's what I've heard as we've been listening. We need to embrace that, criticism and all."

But it's not all negative. Residents are praising Raimondo for pulling the slogan.

"I think it was very smart of her because it was horribly ridiculous," Joan Larochelle said, with Cory Sellers adding, "I definitely think it's a good response to how many people didn't like it."

They are eager to see what the new catchphrase will be.

The FY 2016 budget earmarks $5 million for the marketing campaign, with the money coming from the state hotel tax.

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