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Kevin Stitt’s “OklaX” re-brand mission is taking shape…

Back in July, Governor Stitt announced that he – along with Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell and Marketing Expert Renzi Stone – would be tapping into the state's best and brightest creative minds, for free, to build and develop a new Top Ten brand for our Not-So-Top Ten State. They called it OklaX.

In case you forgot, here were the details:

Pinnell is working with Renzi Stone, CEO of the Oklahoma City public relations and marketing firm Saxum, to gather the state’s top advertising, graphic design and branding experts at an August summit devoted to rebranding the state. Pinnell likened the process to building an advertising agency — dubbed OklaX — from the bottom up.

The experts, recruited from both the public and private sectors, will work on a volunteer basis through the end of the year to craft the new brand in the hopes that it can be unveiled early next year, Pinnell said.

We lampooned the news after it was announced, but after seeing this Oklahoma Top Ten logo that Kevin Stitt is now using at meetings across the state, the re-brand can't come soon enough!

Yikes. I'm all for cheap hack logos designed by private prison inmates, but this may take things too far. First of all, why does the logo look like it was designed for someone in Ohio? Second, what's with the random arrow under the deformed "K?" Third, why are they using South African currency for a background image?

We'll try our best to answer those questions in the upcoming weeks, in the meantime, let's talk more about OklaX.

After combing through local Chamber of Commerce newsletters, ADDY Awards Programs, and 40 Under 40 back issues in search of Oklahoma advertising and PR "experts" to participate in the program, Lt. Governor Matt Pinnell started emailing experts to gauge interest in late July.

Here's an email we acquired via the Ogle Mole Network:

Congratulations, you have been recommended and selected as one of Oklahoma’s top marketing, branding, communication or design professionals and this is your official invitation to participate in OklaX, my statewide branding initiative for Oklahoma. The work we are going to do together is challenging and meaningful. It is also needed.

Now for the specifics:

We will divide our participants into nine volunteer teams.

We’ve been conducting primary and secondary research for a few months now, and are working hard on a thorough and well-researched project brief.

At our OklaX Summit, we will review and finalize the brief with your feedback and direction, and then distribute assignments to each team.

Please hold August 22nd from 9am to 5pm. Possible cocktail reception will follow. Location is TBD, but this will be in the Oklahoma City area.

More details to come weekly. We know this is a big commitment and we are so grateful for your time. If this is not for you, feel free to say so now. No hard feelings!

I can’t thank you enough for your willingness to consider helping Governor Stitt and I create a world class brand for the state of Oklahoma.

We will own it together and share it freely. As a participant we will also allow for all work product to be proudly displayed in portfolios and agency websites.

For Oklahoma!Matt

Yep, they put the guy who signs-off his emails with "For Oklahoma!" in charge of our state's re-brand. This is going to be a fun shit-show to watch play out!

As I mentioned in the past, outside of spending a decade working in corporate marketing and communications for some of our state's top companies, and then building an independent digital media brand that's immediately recognizable to hundreds of thousands of people throughout our state, I know nothing about marketing, branding, communication or design.

As a result, I'm not going to share my thoughts on the general absurdity of both asking, and relying on, industry experts to work for free on a high-profile gloryhole project for the Governor. I'm also not going to point out how bureaucratic groupthink, combined with local ad industry mean girl politics, can stymie results and deliver a bland product.

Instead, let's be positive and look at the different roles and job...errr... volunteer responsibilities they are looking to fill. As Pinnell's email specified, he and Renzi are looking to divide participants among nine different teams. They recently sent a survey to the volunteer experts what team they'd like to join. Unfortunately, "Sarcastic Trolls Who Can Find Flaws In Anything" wasn't one of the nine:

Wait a second. I thought the name of the project was OklaX? Now it's Project Blue Sky?! I guess the first order of business should be to design a brand manual so everyone's on the same page!

Anyway, here are the 9 committees they're looking to fill. Friendly reminder - volunteers can only sign up for three, which I assume they put in to prevent Brenda Jones from applying to be the captain of every committee.

Before we continue, I should probably point out that the "survey" is still active and online, so if you want to volunteer your time and have your idea pilfered you can do so here.

Here's more:

Yep, that's all the high-level stuff that Kevin Stitt – the guy who wants to run Oklahoma like a business – expects industry professionals to lead and manage for free. It makes sense. I'm sure when he was with Gateway Mortgage he only hired the best marketing and advertising volunteers to help get him banned from doing business in Georgia.

That being said, I guess this is a good opportunity for volunteers to connect and network with other industry professionals who are desperately working for free, kiss a little political ass, and put either OklaX or Project Blue Sky on your resume.

Then again, knowing how well our state does when we actually pay people to do a job, you may be better off volunteering as a janitor at the Kings of Leon concert instead.

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