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Case Study: Sad Little Town

Case Study: Sad Little Town

This week, we’re bringing you something new: a case study! For this first entry into our new case study series, we’re talking about the recent Sad Little Town project: a slightly sassy rallying cry for Lansing through clever and timely merch. In this episode, we cover the origin of this project, why people felt so strongly about it, the lessons that can be learned, and why this was a moment to seize.

Last month, the Detroit Free Press’s editorial page editor ran a piece about moving the state capital to

Detroit, deeming Lansing a “sad little town.” It caused quite the stir, to say the least. Lansing residents and Detroiters alike sounded off on social media, the comments sections grew tense, and water cooler conversation was fueled for days.

As buzz around the article grew, people in the Lansing community latched onto the phrase “sad little town” with a sense of tongue-in-cheek pride. Thus, an anonymous “Sad Little Town” account on Twitter/X popped up overnight, accompanied by a website with t-shirts and hats proudly displaying the phrase. Almost overnight, “sad little town” evolved from a phrase unfairly maligning Lansing to a rallying cry for unity. (Because who doesn’t love a good t-shirt?)

At this point, it’s no secret that Jen harnessed the team at Redhead to put together the materials and skills for this on-the-fly opportunity. But what can this endeavor teach us about making the most of a moment to help bring a community together? This week, Karen talks to Jen about the project, why they chose to remain anonymous at the start, and how an unkind jab was reclaimed as an inside joke, all for the benefit of our beloved city.