Roy McCrerey stepped off a bus in Asheville’s Pritchard Park to resounding applause and the beat of a bluegrass band. Banners on the bus read “Support the Five Day Weekend,” and McCrerey’s message was simple. He told Xpress, “This is a grassroots movement beginning in Asheville that we expect will sweep the nation!”
Speaking to the crowd, McCrerey—communications director for Friends of the Five Day Weekend, an Asheville-based advocacy group—said: “Remember that phrase, ‘The pursuit of happiness?’ What happened? Asheville is one of the few places in the country that gets it. This is a place where people realize there is more to life than busting your butt in a cubicle.”
A hundred or so supporters waved signs and interrupted McCrerey’s brief speech with cheers. He said the April 17 kick-off at Pritchard Park was the beginning of a tour that would take the message to Atlanta, Greenville, Charlotte and Raleigh before heading for Washington, D.C. “We are one of the hardest-working nations on the planet,” he said. “Lucky workers get two weeks paid vacation, but often they don’t even take time off. Last year, 570 million paid vacation days weren’t used. That’s crazy!” McCrerey went on to point out that Germans get 29 paid vacation days each year, while French workers get 39. “That’s a party we missed! There’s a lot of wine being drunk and cheese being eaten. You can bet the Germans and French don’t skip their paid holidays!”
The crowd seemed to agree wholeheartedly with McCrerey’s message, and the music continued as the crowd swelled with folks who were apparently playing hooky on a sunny Tuesday afternoon.
Checking the organization’s Web site, one discovers: “The Five Day Weekend idea was born in Asheville, N.C., as a marketing initiative for the Convention and Visitors Bureau. But as it came together, this initiative became more of a public service campaign aimed at bringing attention to the worsening epidemic of overwork and encouraging U.S. workers to get out and enjoy life.”
Marla Tambellini, director of marketing and public relations for the Convention and Visitors Bureau, told Xpress, “We have budgeted $500,000 to $600,000 for the campaign.” Tambellini noted that the money was left over in the existing budget in a media contingency fund. “So it doesn’t cut into our advertising,” she explained. “We’re still running the existing spring campaign.” She said the promotion had “become a guerilla-marketing effort which breaks through the clutter of advertising from larger cities with bigger promotional budgets.”
Your room-tax dollars at work.