New tourism video highlights NOLA’s open hospitality
New Orleans has a reputation for welcoming citizens and visitors who don’t necessarily fit the mold in their conservative hometowns. The city has a history of serving as a refuge for free people of color, artists, writers, musicians and people in the LGBTQ community — even before that acronym was ever assigned. Now, with a new tourism video, NOLA is shown once again as a welcoming place for all.
“New Orleans Always Open” was conceived by 360i, the advertising agency for New Orleans Tourism and Marketing Corporation (NOTMC). It uses a New Orleans second line and shows it in reverse to illustrate the importance of diversity and welcoming all people.
The opening lines of the short film, directed by Trent Jaklitsch of Gravy Films, state: “New Orleans Tourism and the local community came together during Mardi Gras to show where the world will go if we don’t accept people as they are.”
From there, the second line moves backward down Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. The participants are somber, the music slows to a solo bass drum beat and costume pieces begin to be removed. A married couple removes their wedding bands and the second line members are hidden from view inside, no longer on the street. After a poignant pause, the music once again fills the street and people reemerge in full costume to restart the second line, leading with a rainbow banner that says, “we’re never going back.”
In this minute-long film, the juxtaposition of then and now, participants and spectators, and fear and acceptance, are each highlighted. In the aftermath of the NBA relocating its weekend of festivities and All-Star game from North Carolina to New Orleans — bringing with it its major sponsors — it’s evident that corporations are responding to the increasing demands and expectations for equality.
It was a savvy move by NOTMC to seize on the timing to further highlight NOLA’s open hospitality to all. The year-over-year growth of tourism and major conventions in New Orleans can be linked to what sets us apart from other competitive markets—not only our culture bearers like musicians and Mardi Gras Indians, but also our attitude of welcoming acceptance. As long as you’re nice, you can stay.
The film was shot on Feb. 12 and over 400 volunteers came out to participate. On the Go Nola website you can watch a three-minute “behind the scenes” video that features interviews with the volunteers. Each has a personal reason for taking part in the filming and their perspectives add to the sense of importance of the project. One volunteer said, “I’m from New Orleans, born and raised here. I like the concept of making sure that New Orleans is open and that we’re not going backwards. We’re not going to be in the closet.”