Creative response to miserable publicity

A few weeks ago, Forbes named Rockford, Illinois the 3rd Most Miserable City in the United States. Chicago came in a close 4th.

Some very creative local marketing pros quickly responded. Within days they turned the unflattering notoriety into a tourism campaign promoting many things Forbes‘ formula didn’t take into consideration:

The campaign has sparked a lot of local discussions. Naysayers say it’s a shallow attempt to gloss over the very real problems Rockford faces. Area cheerleaders argue that it showcases the area’s best features.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Like many cities, Rockford was hard hit by the Recession. Poverty is high, crime is worse than ever, and property taxes have gone up as property values have gone down. Yet all of those negatives don’t mean there aren’t good things, too. To me, this is an ad campaign designed to highlight positive things that actually exist in a city still struggling with many serious issues.

I also see it as a really creative response to harsh criticism. What are some memorable ways you’ve seen people, organizations or cities deal with negative press?


About Paula Hendrickson

I'm a full-time freelance writer with an addiction to yarn, cooking and all kinds of crafty things. I come from a long line of creative and entrepreneurial types on both sides of the family, making creativity almost like competitive pursuit.

Posted on March 21, 2013, in Creativity, criticism, marketing campaign, Publicity and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Deborah Johnson

    Negative publicity, or, truth hurts?

    • Paula Hendrickson

      Both, and more. The funny thing was that my first response to the ad wasn’t either to love it or loathe it. My response was: What a creative reaction to the negative publicity.

      Yes, the ad is glossy. Yes, it shows only a camera-ready view of town. But it’s a tourism ad, not a documentary. If nothing else, it has people discussing both the negative and positive things about Rockford.

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