Mark Twain never said, or wrote, “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco,” but few people would have contradicted him if he had. Now a new campaign for the North Lake Tahoe Visitors’ Bureaus takes the ersatz Twain quote to its logical conclusion.
“Winter, Spring, Winter, Fall.”
I like the stark simplicity of the headline, which evokes the faux-Twainism without recycling it. The four-word tagline echoes the rhythm and supplies the missing season.
A few days ago, when I shot this billboard, the thermometer read 58°F at noon, on its way up to a high of 61°. Yes, in late July. I spent some time over the weekend at the Dolphin Club in San Francisco, and everyone who wasn’t in the water was dressed exactly like those kids. People wear earmuffs and mittens to baseball games here. I am not exaggerating.
Lake Tahoe, four hours to the east, is spectacular, and I love it, but it isn’t exactly Death Valley, temperature-wise. In Truckee on the north shore, elevation 5,900 feet, recent highs have been in the mid-70s, and overnight lows in the 30s and 40s. It’s true there’s no fog, but there can be afternoon thunderstorms—unheard of here on the coast—and snow in August.
Still, the visitors’ bureaus can justify their pitch:
Ever been to San Francisco in the summer? Oh wait, there is no summer in fog-ridden San Francisco.
Another billboard in the campaign (from San Francisco agency School of Thought):
“Don’t Call It Frisco. Or Summer.”
Real summer is actually a lot closer to San Francisco than Lake Tahoe: drive 25 miles to the east or south and the fog vanishes and temperatures rise by as much as 30 degrees.
A couple of years ago, McDonald’s had a turn with the coldest-winter trope. See that ad here.