Springfield landmarks co-star in new Illinois ‘Middle of Everything’ marketing campaign

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The Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield. Built in 1839 and first occupied by the Lincolns in 1844, the two-story home is where Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln and their sons lived for 17 years while the future president worked as a Springfield lawyer and launched his political career.

The city of Springfield will have a starring role in the latest marketing campaign by the state of Illinois, with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Cozy Dog Drive-In, and other sites featured in the new promotion.

Gov. JB Pritzker officially announced the new campaign, "Middle of Everything," at a ceremony Monday at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium. While the Windy City is spotlighted heavily, Springfield gets plenty of love as well, with Lincoln sites such as Lincoln’s Home and Lincoln’s Tomb promoted in addition to the museum and a statue of Lincoln sitting on a park bench outside the museum.

Pritzker said the $30 million campaign would help places like Springfield recover tourism dollars lost during the COVID-19 pandemic and put the state in a position to grow in the years to come.

"This campaign is a significant next step to aid our state’s tourism recovery and positions Illinois for future growth and success that our entire state can rally around – helping our economy, boosting tax revenues, and putting people back to work," Pritzker said. "As tourists gear up for a busy summer travel season, we welcome visitors near and far to find themselves in the middle of everything that Illinois has to offer."

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Scott Dahl, director of the Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the campaign was reflective not just of Illinois, but Springfield as well, owing to the centralized nature of the city.

Alan Espinoza, 17, of Addison, Illinois touches the nose on Lincoln's statue at Lincoln's Tomb for good luck while on a trip with his high school class Wednesday Feb. 9, 2022. {Thomas J. Turney The State Journal Register}

"We’re so thankful to the Illinois Office of Tourism and DCEO for featuring us in many of these ads in this $30 million campaign," Dahl said. "(We’re) very prominent in this campaign and certainly as we look to rebound and have a pre-pandemic type of tourism year, this is not going to hurt."

Sylvia Garcia, director of the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, said that the campaign aimed to welcome new people to Illinois and support businesses both big and small.

"We can’t wait to share the wonders of Illinois with visitors from across the country and around the globe," Garcia said. "Tourism is a key economic driver in Illinois and the ‘Middle of Everything’ campaign will help us welcome even more visitors to Illinois who will help support our distinctive small businesses, inviting hotels and world class restaurants around the state."

A series of TV ads will run with the campaign, directed by Illinois native Jane Lynch, famous for her acting roles in shows such as "Glee" and "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and hosting duties for shows such as "Hollywood Game Night" and "The Weakest Link." Lynch, who was raised in Dolton, is a graduate of Illinois State University.

She narrates a quartet of 30-second ads, which showcase a Lincoln impersonator at the Lincoln Home, a muscle car at the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices downtown, Lynch interviewing a family at the Cozy Dog and speaking with a ghost of Lincoln at "Ghosts of the Library" in the ALPLM, among others.

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In a statement, the actress said she was proud to see her project come to life, exemplifying her passion for the state and all it has to offer.

An Illinois State Police squad car sits stationed outside the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Saturday, January 16, 2021, in Springfield, Ill. In light of the riots at the U.S. Capitol law enforcement has increased their presence around government buildings in downtown Springfield. [Justin L. Fowler/The State Journal-Register]

"I loved every minute of working on this project promoting tourism in my home state and I’m so proud to finally see it come to life," Lynch said. "I am grateful for Gov. Pritzker’s enthusiasm and support for this new Illinois Tourism marketing campaign. We share the same passion for Illinois, its people, its culture, and the wonderful attractions across the state."

Dahl said the new campaign will allow the bureau to better spotlight the connection of Lincoln sites and the city’s place along historic Route 66. With the strategy entering its fourth year, Dahl said that the new money being pumped in could help make a bigger dent with international visitors to Springfield.

"They recognize the two together are very powerful, especially for international travelers," Dahl said. "We know that Route 66 and Abraham Lincoln are top of mind for those international travelers."

He and the city are appreciative of having the city spotlighted as people begin making plans for a summer that may look more normal than what it has been the previous two years.

"Having $30 million behind us to kick off the summer travel season, (with) History Comes Alive coming back in full swing, to be in front of the General Assembly returning and conventions in town, (it) feels very good," Dahl said.

Contact Zach Roth: (217) 899-4338; ZDRoth@gannett.com; @ZacharyRoth13

via The State Journal-Register

April 20, 2022 at 06:55AM

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