As another year goes in the books here at Kentucky for Kentucky, it's a good time to reflect and take stock of how far we've come. It's been a wild ride so far, so let's take a look at a decade of KY for KY: A Timeline of Excellence.
-While eating pizza in December of 2010, we came up with the crazy idea to crowdfund a Super Bowl commercial for the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Arnold did one for California, so why not us? How much could a Super Bowl commercial cost anyhow?
-In the spring of 2011 we launched the Kentucky for Kentucky Facebook page where we starting sharing everything that makes Kentucky great– its people, its places, and its things.
-In the Fall of 2011 we took a leap of faith and launched a 60 day crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to raise $3.5 million to make a Super Bowl commercial promoting Kentucky. At the end of the 60 days we had only raised $110,000 of the $3.5 million needed (If you don't know how Kickstarter works, if you don't reach your goal, no one is charged, and you get nothing). While we didn’t raise the money, we got a ton of great press and got folks really talking about how amazing Kentucky is. We started generating a ton of state pride.
-In an effort to raise money and awareness we started selling some really rad t-shirts and prints with designs by Kick-Ass Kentuckian Tim Jones that always sold out extremely fast. We learned a lot about demand and are finally starting to learn about the supply part.
-After the attempted Super Bowl campaign, people kept asking what’s next with Kentucky for Kentucky. In December of 2012 we launched a campaign to rebrand Kentucky (without Kentucky’s permission, of course). Unbridled Spirit was out and the new slogan “Kentucky Kicks Ass” was in. Once again the campaign got a TON of great press and got a TON of Kentuckians talking about how great Kentucky is. Check out the case study video below.
-Jlaw was a fan.
-Some badass folks even wanted to tattoo it on their body, and we obliged.
-When we launched the “Kentucky Kicks Ass” campaign, we also started selling merch promoting Kentucky and the new Kentucky Kicks Ass slogan. At this time, there really wasn’t anyone selling straight Kentucky pride merch except for Will Russell at Why Louisville. Beyond that everyone was just selling blue and white UK gear. While we can’t take full credit, we did play a huge role in the rise in popularity of Kentucky pride merch which has led to the creation of a number of new businesses and jobs. We haven’t been officially thanked by these businesses or the Kentucky Department of Commerce, but “You’re Welcome.”
-We launched our iconic Y’ALL t-shirt which is still going strong. There’s a really good chance that every “Y’all” t-shirt in existence was in some way inspired by the popularity of this t-shirt.
-We also launched our world famous, Hunter S Thompson inspired "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent & Depraved" print by Rachael Sinclair. It received some amazing press, and it's now in its fifth(!) running.
-We worked with candle maker Kathy Werking to invent the now famous Fried Chicken Scented Candle. It was one of the hottest holiday gifts of 2013 and received a ton of amazing press – like USA Today.
- Seven glorious words – Gold Plated Kentucky Fried Chicken Bone Necklaces. We worked with jewelry artist Meg C to make a small collection of Gold Plated Kentucky Fried Chicken Bone Necklaces. They took the Internet by storm, got a ton of press (like People Magazine) and sold out. The necklaces were so popular that we decided to also make some earrings that also got a ton of press.
-We spoke at Creative Mornings in Louisville. Check out the video below.
-We opened the Kentucky Fun Mall! Our one stop shop for Kentucky gear that's also home to our office and screen printing operation. Fun fact, we packed and shipped 3,000 Fried Chicken candles from a kitchen island in a duplex, now we have a big proper table in a warehouse. We've come so far.
-We introduced the world to our mascot -Cocaine Bear.
-We started selling lumps of Kentucky Coal (to Buttholes) during the Holidays. Read about it on National Geographic.
-We launched Southern Socks which is now sold in over 400 stores through-out the south.
-We created a commercial for the Kentucky Fun Mall that was considered one of the strangest local television commercials of all time. Check it out below and you can read about it here.
-Everyone in the World is talking about Cocaine Bear. Check it out.
-Bill Murray is spotted wearing our “George Clooney Is A Beautiful Man” t-shirt while sitting on a boat in Italy watching fireworks with George Clooney. Of course it goes super duper super viral on the Internet. Probably one of the most talked about images of 2016.
-In June of 2016, the very first Ky for Ky Totally Tubular Tube-A-Thon takes place and quickly becomes Kentucky’s most popular event of the Summer.
-We started a campaign to replace Milk as the official drink of Kentucky with bourbon. No brainer, right? The campaign got some amazing press and a ton of signatures on Change.org, but sadly nothing came of it.
-We flew a Kentucky Kicks Ass banner behind a plane at Forecastle. That was awesome.
-Our “We Speak You’re Language” ad in the Oxford American became one of 2017’s best print ads according to AdWeek.
-We opened the Kentucky Fun Stall at the Summit at Fritz Farm.
-All hell broke loose, but that’s a story best told in person.
-Our 1-800 My Old Kentucky Home hotline goes live for Kentuckians missing home. After thousands of calls and press, the hotline is still alive and going strong. It’s well loved.
-With Coleman Larkin’s help, we hijack the Kentucky Derby media coverage by selling “Derby Turds” – an actual turd from 1997 Kentucky Derby winner Silver Charm sitting in a mason jar preserved in epoxy resin. Tons of press and we can now officially say we’ve sold horse shit. As Colonel Sanders always said, if you can sell horse shit in a jar, you can sell anything.
-The Big Blind Bourbon Taste Off becomes a thing. Boy howdy do y'all have some finely tuned bourbon palates. It’ll be a thing in 2020, so be on the lookout for it.
-Kentucky’s best friend Sturgill Simpson talked to Joe Rogan about Cocaine Bear. He was also featured on the popular podcast My Favorite Murder. Everyone loves Cocaine Bear.
-Kentucky for Kentucky’s co-founder Whit Hiler makes AdWeek’s Creative 100 list along with Lebron James and Billie Eilish.
-With artist Coleman Larkin’s help, we launched a line of t-shirts tie-dyed in KFC gravy just in time for Thanksgiving. The shirts were a huge hit. They sold out and got a ton of great press. Defender of the Commonwealth Tyler Childers was even spotted wearing one at a concert in Indy.
-Just in time for the holidays we launched the Kentucky for Kentucky Drunk Shopping Network. Why? No one shops harder drunk than Kentuckians. Here’s proof. The 30 minute spot actually ran once on late-night television. Why once? WKYT didn’t really thoroughly review it the first time. When they reviewed it a second time, they cut it for having 1) cussing 2) horse humping socks, and 3) Cocaine Bear. Oh well. Be on the lookout for more Drunk Shopping Network in 2020.
We'd like to thank all you kick-ass Kentuckians who've helped us along the way for making the past decade extra special for us. We look forward to another 10 years of kicking-ass for the Commonwealth!