SPRINGFIELD — Illinois is nearly doubling its advertising budget and launching a new campaign this summer to get tourists across the Midwest to travel the state's scenic highways and byways — potholes, crumbling bridges and all.
The state will spend upward of $15 million on television commercials, online video and outdoor advertising to promote "Amazing" destinations across Illinois, from Cave-in-Rock State Park near the Kentucky border to The Ledge glass viewing box atop Willis Tower in Chicago.
The ad campaign by the state's new agency, Chicago-based O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul, is aimed at getting visitors to travel throughout Illinois and stay overnight in paid accommodations. The tagline is abbreviated from the state's long-running pitch, "Are you up for Amazing?"
The new campaign features vignettes from various attractions, taking in haute cuisine and Chicago hot dogs, natural wonders and historic sites, wineries and breweries, and perhaps inexplicably, goat yoga in Galena.
"The goal is to inspire summer travel," said Jen Bills, a creative director at O'Keefe Reinhard & Paul. "We're really trying to inspire people to give Illinois more than a day trip -- travel for a few nights and experience different parts of the state."
Illinois tourism has been on the rise for several years, with more than 114 million visitors pumping $40 billion into the state's economy last year, according to the Illinois Office of Tourism.
The ad budget for the new campaign is $15 million, up from $8 million last year. The campaign will not only blitz Illinois residents to encourage in-state summer road trips, but also reach out to Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa to lure nearby visitors.
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Regional target ad markets include Detroit, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and Minneapolis.
While the state's sights and sounds as depicted in the new campaign are indeed breathtaking, from waterfalls in Matthiessen State Park to quaint Main Street in Galena, getting there may not be half the fun -- at least until Illinois repairs its deteriorating roads.
The Illinois General Assembly approved Gov. J.B. Pritzker's $45 billion package of infrastructure improvements over the weekend, boosting everything from gas tax to vehicle registration fees to foot the bill.
But the six-year capital program is unlikely to make significant improvements in time for that carefree Illinois summer road trip, so keep an eye out for potholes.