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.
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.