Forbes Schmorbes! Misery Loves Company in the Rockford Region

RACVB’s latest campaign, Misery Loves Company, is a fun, friendly, tongue-in-cheek tourism campaign masquerading as a response to Forbes Magazine’s latest ranking of the Rockford Region as the 3rd most miserable city in the USA.

As the head of RACVB, I’d like to offer a few thoughts about the campaign, our ongoing role in promoting and developing the region’s tourism industry and why it’s important to address our biggest critics and challenges head on.

Following the runaway success of the equally satirical Hideaway In Rockford of 2011, we hope to reinforce for our fellow citizens and visitors the many positive and not miserable assets that enhance our quality of life and attract more than 6 million visits to Real. Original. Rockford’s attractions and events each year.

misery_logo red copy

Assets like our world-class Sportscore facilities, Anderson Japanese Gardens, Discovery Center Museum, Coronado Theatre, the IceHogs, endless acres of parks and preserves, many golf courses and other attractions combine to help us create a visitor industry that has almost always been on the upswing, and supports 3,000 tourism-supported jobs in Winnebago County.

Tourism marketing experts have lauded Misery’s admittedly counter-intuitive approach far and wide.  We have heard from officials of Brand USA, the Illinois Office of Tourism and many other state, regional and local agencies – all praising our hutzpah in giving Forbes the proverbial Schmorbes.


Misery has also sparked a bit of spirited debate at home, and earned some earnest critics. We respect and have been listening to the feedback. The comic underpinnings of the campaign depend on satire, and that foundation is what makes it stand out and make it memorable.

Nonetheless, as is the case in countless cities in America, Rockford has challenges to address and opportunities to seize. Many individuals, agencies and groups are addressing them earnestly and energetically. For our part, we know that tourism is one of the quickest forms of economic development. Other people’s money is always welcome here in Rockford. I love it when visitors spend their money here and then leave with only positive memories. Green is green.

Far from a long term re-positioning of Rockford’s tourism identity, Misery Loves Company leverages a timely and topical issue. We are making lemonade out of the lemons dropped in our lap by a national news outlet. As a city, we shouldn’t be a shrinking violet. Let’s address our critics, our challenges and our opportunities head on.

A similarly comic approach during Hideaway resulted in millions of media impressions over a roughly three-month period, and earned labels such as “the best tourism campaign ever,” by Michelle Malkin and other media outlets, bloggers and fans.

For the next little while, RACVB intends to leverage every last bit of positive attention we can get out of Forbes’ miserable and at least partially inaccurate assessment of our regional community. Now and long term, we will keep our focus on our organizational mandate: enhancing and promoting the Rockford Region’s “visitability.” In so doing, we will improve our quality of life and build the region’s job and tax base, just as we have since 1984.

If you haven’t seen the Misery Loves Company video yet, please visit gorockford.com and give it a look. Share it with your friends and family.

In closing, let me say I love the Rockford Region and I’m proud to call it home.

Forbes Schmorbes!





  1. Chuck Sweeny

    I continue to disagree with using the word “misery” an a promotion for Rockford. THAT IS THE WORD THAT STICKS IN THE MIND. And why are we insisting on publicizing a relatively obscure biz mag? Most people never heard of it.

  2. Rock n Grohl

    While I fully agree that Rockford has some quality things to see and do, I think this campaign misses the point of the Forbes article. If I remember correctly the article focused on our consistent struggles with crime, poverty and unemployment. As great as the atractions in Rockford may be, many residents cannot afford to take advantage of them and those that can often feel unsafe while doing so. Considering the proximity of Chicago, Quad Cities, Madison and Milwaukee, along with the fact that the majority of our attrations are not entirely unique, it is hard to see any significant growth in tourism until we create a safer and more economically stable community. Nice to see an effort to portray Rockford in a positive light though – can’t make progress unless you believe in it.

  3. AmazingScott

    I saw the RRStar poll that showed 39% thinking it’s an embarrassment and 42% thinking it’s a waste of time and money. I think this is a campaign commercial attempting to whitewash criticism regarding some very serious problems by pointing out the scenery right before an election. That’s why the commercial is only airing in the Rockford area and not in the major markets where the RACVB would normally try to market this city. Lame.

  4. If you think this campaign is a bad idea please sign the petition to end it! http://chn.ge/10ArMpr your

  5. Sleeker

    I like the video, but not how it’s being promoted.

  6. Frank Dyke

    Clearly, Mr. Groh does not understand that satire only works when you are picking on something else, as in “Hideaway’s” rather funny poke at the cowardice of WI Democrats. In “Misery” its more self-referential irony, something that only motivates hipsters. The simple, brutal, truth is that Rockford is an awful place to visit, your safer visiting Baghdad than the West Side. Silly little children’s museums and a minor-league hockey team with a losing record are not real draws. Nor are sporting complexes. I would love to see the support for the 3K tourism jobs claims, as it seems high. The only jobs I can readily identify as supported by fantasy tourism in Rockford is Mr. Groh’s. Its time we stop wasting money on RACVB and put it toward basics like hiring police, repairing our crumbling streets, and re-installing the street lights that were removed so we could continue to waste MY and YOUR tax dollars. The only thing “real” about Rockford is its collective idiocy. Sadly, that’s not very original.

  7. Shawn Robinson

    I get the idea. If it isn’t working though and people are missing the joke or even get the joke and don’t think it’s funny, then do another campaign.
    The Hideaway campaign was fine. everyone got it and it was clever. While the idea of reassoociating a word with something positive is fine, not everyone is getting it. You shouldn’t have to write an editorial explaning your campaign just like a comedian shouldn’t have to explain why the jokes are funny. If the audience doesn’t get it, move on to new material. You can do it.

  8. thank you for share this valuable information
    @chuck sweeny : i agree with u bro.