Florida has a new business slogan and logo, "Florida: the Perfect Climate for Business," which appears pretty straightforward -- except that the "I" in Florida has been swapped with a men's necktie.
The decision has drawn fire from critics who say the logo is sexist. The ad campaign was launched by Enterprise Florida Inc., a pro-business group funded in part by the state.
One commenter wrote on the group’s Facebook page: “I think this logo sends the wrong message, it seems to scream 'we don't hire women' maybe that was not the intention, but that is the message.”
Another wrote: "Oh for pete sake! Some people must lay awake at night to think up something to find fault with! This a good and interesting business logo, so go with it."
Melissa Medley, Enterprise Florida's chief marketing officer, said the point of the campaign was to make people recognize the state as a business destination and not simply a tourist destination.
"The idea of a cartoon tie being considered sexist is somewhat of a stretch," she said. "The most recognizable icon of the business world is a tie. It has nothing to do with men or women."
She said that people have suggested perhaps using a briefcase or cell phone, but the group is happy with its decision.
Sue Carlton, a columnist with the Tampa Bay Times, took issue with the logo in a recent column.
“This … may seem as ancient to younger women as whalebone corsets,” she wrote. “But to some of us who grew up with tales of important downtown clubs where businessmen dined and women were unwelcome, of big deals cut on golf courses without pesky women in attendance, the message is not so subtle: Businessmen Welcome Here. The rest of you? Eh.”
Carlton went on to ask about perhaps draping the "F" in Florida in pearls or anchoring the "A" in fashionable heels.
"Nah," she wrote. "We just need a catchy phrase that says sunny Florida is open for business, and we mean open to everyone."