Texas Forest Country my a**

Perhaps I should have entered a career on a different end of the communication industry spectrum, specifically marketing. Why if you are a marketing type, you get to play around and change the name of vast regions. That has happened in the area in which I grew up, the Pineywoods of East Texas. The Pineywoods has been renamed the “Texas Forest Country.”

“We think of the (Texas) Hill Country, it comes with this aura,” explained Jane Ainsworth, whose Ainsworth/Alvis marketing company developed the moniker as part of a strategy to sell East Texas …”

So they ripped off the name from the Hill Country. Is that the best they could do? Why not borrow from the Big Country and call it “The Big Forest” or from the Permian Basin and refer to it as “The Forest Basin?” I think the group that commissioned the marketing company to develop a new brand name should get their money back. By the way, that group — the Pineywoods Economic Partnership — is not changing their name.

Maybe the Pineywoods is a homey, old-timey, sounding name. But pine trees have been the hallmark of that portion of East Texas for many, many years not to mention the crop of choice for the dominant timber industry.

I have no reason to believe that the people behind the name change don’t have their heart in the right place by trying to promote tourism in East Texas. Portions of East Texas are among the poorest places in the country. Also, the beauty of East Texas is a secret to much of the world and folks who may have only known about it from the lynching-by-dragging of Jasper resident James Byrd Jr.

Thankfully, few people in East Texas are redneck racist murderers like the three morons who were convicted in Byrd’s death. And there is much charm to be found in different locales in the Pineywoods.

Personally, I see an uphill battle ahead to change the Pineywoods into the Texas Forest Country. Sure, billboards and tourism brochures may use the name. But I suspect many of the natives visitors will encounter will never use the phrase “Forest Country” when referring to the region. The only way such change will take place is to keep the branding effort alive for many, many years until the older folks who have used the Pineywoods handle for ages die off.

If someone in the future asks me something about the Texas Forest Country, I will tell them that it’s a fantasy land, something kind of like Oz. Then I will point them toward the Pineywoods.

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