Clueless and shallow in Palm Beach, Florida #ThePalmBeaches

This advertisement for “The Palm Beaches” was the back cover of the Boston Globe Magazine on Sunday. It is a sign that we are losing our minds.

Please, by all means, seek out great experiences. And it’s fine to post great experiences on social media. But if you are seeking out experiences for the purpose of posting them on your feed, instead of actually experiencing them, you’ve missed the point. If this headline appeals to you, seek professional help.

If you like your legs, by all means, show them off. And using sex in ads is as old and traditional as lying in politics. But reducing the main human in your ad to a pair of photoshopped thighs and calves is a bit much.

The copy tells me that Palm Beach is the official sponsor of luxury. But the ad tells that Palm Beach is for vain, shallow people.

If you live in Palm Beach County and this is true, please explain.

Who’s paying for this? You are.

According to (why is there only a hashtag, not a URL, on this ad?), tourism generates $42 million annual in bed-tax revenue on Palm Beach County lodging sales of $623 million. “Discover the Palm Beaches” spends a portion of that money. Its management is listed below:

Joe Cardenas, CEO – Aquaco
Patrick Franklin, President & CEO – Urban League of Palm Beach County
Rita Craig, President – Top Tier Leadership
Troy McLellan, President/CEO   – Boca Raton Chamber of Commerce
Michael King, Chief Operating Officer – Eau Palm Beach Resort
Jorge Pesquera, President/CEO – Discover The Palm Beaches

If you visit Palm Beach, your bed tax is paying for this ad. If you live or work there, tell one of these people they’re spending their tourism dollars to reduce you to a shallow cliche. (The full board is here.)


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  1. Actually this is a brilliant ad. The Palm Beaches is specifically targeting a “psychographic” (different from a demographic, a psychographic is a group of people with similar values) with this ad.

    If you do not share those values, this ad will garner no response. If your values are almost opposite the values portrayed, you’ll respond just as Josh has with this post. If your values match those portrayed, this ad will resonate with you.

    Ads are like magnets. Their ability to attract is in equal proportion to their ability to repel. When you craft a message specifically for one set of values, you are bound to anger another set of values.

    Plus, the use of the model without a face is another smart move. It puts “you” on the beach instead of some model. Yes, sex sells, but in this case, they are putting first-person perspective in the ad, too, which is far more powerful for getting people who share the values the ad portrays to picture themselves on that beach.

    The Palm Beaches understands that they aren’t for everyone. They have chosen who to lose, and are instead going after a small segment of the population. They only need a million of the 320 million people in the US to act. They don’t care about the 319 million others.

    1. I completely agree Philip.

      Interestingly enough there is also value in the opposite-the-target segment. Josh has included their hashtag on this post (including the title) and also a link to their site.

      These links carry value for SEO and these days Google is smart enough to understand that this post is talking about tourism and experiences as well as linking to The Palm Beaches, twice. In fact these are the only links appearing in the body text.

      It’s that old saying isn’t it: There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

  2. Josh,

    In 2017, our research showed more than 96% of US travelers, and almost as many travelers in key European countries, have a Facebook account, which was higher than the non-travel base. Travelers also appear to be more likely than the general population to have accounts on other social networks, such as Twitter, Instagram, etc.

    Regarding the vanity in this ad, Palm Beach is a destination that intentionally appeals to the affluent traveler. Affluent travelers put “conspicuous consumption” on a mix of steroids and rocket fuel. Affluent travelers are more likely than other travelers to be engaged with social media. Ditto with high net worth travelers. Well-to-do travelers have no qualms sharing what they do on their trips. In fact, they enjoy it. They want to brag about their exploits, both to show off and, in some cases, make their other (presumably wealthy) friends envious. The era of “old money” consumers, who are more demure and discreet in what they do and how they spend their money, appears to be waning.

    Travel _is_ inherently sharable. Seemingly everything that occurs during a trip can and will be posted, tweeted, etc. While it may seem crass and vulgar, what “The Palm Beaches” are doing makes sense from a marketing perspective. The area has to overcome preconceptions of being only for old people, lacking in activities beyond just its beach and, frankly, being boring. I’m not sure this ad alone will do the trick. Showing someone sitting by a beach, rather than perhaps doing something more indulgent and/or active, doesn’t convey a destination abundant in sharable moments.

    My $0.02.

      1. How do you know they’re not advertising elsewhere?

        The ad may “speak” to a young audience, but Palm Beach does, admittedly, appeal to older travelers. Although travelers always pooh-pooh the impact advertising had on their purchase decisions, print and broadcast advertising do still reach travelers. Does print have as much impact today as it did five, 10, or ore years ago? Of course not. But all print isn’t the same. Look at where this ad appeared: Back cover of the Sunday magazine. That’s a good place for The Palm Beaches to appear.

        Of course, if The Palm Beaches is not advertising online and, importantly, on social networks, then it is may not achieve its desired marketing and business results.