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Chamber’s use of picture in ad rankles some in Jonesborough

Madison Mathews • Mar 23, 2013 at 9:35 PM

An advertisement placed in the March issue of Southern Living magazine featuring a photograph of Jonesborough has put a bad taste in the mouths of town residents and business owners.

The advertisement featured a picture of downtown Jonesborough with the Chamber’s national marketing tagline “Start Your Adventure in Johnson City” emblazoned over the photo.

Jonesborough resident and business owner Steve Cook said the ad borders on false advertising.

“To use that and not mention that it’s Jonesborough at all in the picture, I think, is almost a form of false advertising, so you know it’s just kind of disheartening for the Chamber to use something like that because we are attractive and have a lot of events going on and not give us any credit whatsoever,” Cook said.

Cook, owner of Jonesborough Art Glass Gallery, said he would just like the Chamber to give credit where credit is due.

“We just thought it was real strange that they would post that and then they come down here and want businesses to join their Chamber ... and they give you a sticker that says ‘Start Your Adventure in Johnson City,’ ” he said. “I don’t think so. I’ll do something that recognizes the Chamber and the three entities there, but they’re very self-serving, in my opinion, and it wouldn’t hurt them a bit to acknowledge Jonesborough.”

Chamber President and CEO Gary Mabrey said the advertisement was anything but a gaffe or false advertising. The organization doesn’t typically caption photos of the area when using them in national publications.

“We did not leave the name or a caption on the picture off. We just chose to use that picture. ... I see it as advertising this community. I see it as Johnson City advertising a community and all that we have to offer and all that we offer around us,” he said.

Mabrey said the Chamber uses a number of pictures from the surrounding area, such as the Gray Fossil Site, Jonesborough, Johnson City and other local attractions, in its advertising, which includes ads placed in national publications like Southern Living.

“Historically, for all of my career here, we have utilized pictures of as many attractions (and) reasons for people to visit here as we can, whether it’s (East Tennessee State) university’s library or the downtown library or the Lady of the Fountain. In this particular ad, we chose a picture of downtown Jonesborough and that’s why that picture is there,” he said.

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