From Protest to Promotion

Although Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has signed into law a bill that prevents most public workers in the state from collective bargaining, the debate over its merits continues in that state and others where legislators are considering similar policies.

Yesterday, a district attorney in Dane County, Wis., filed a complaint asking a judge to void the measure because legislators violated Wisconsin’s open meetings law when pushing it through, the Wisconsin State Journal reported. The case is assigned to the same judge who will hear a lawsuit seeking similar action filed against the state by Dane County.

The outcome of the fights in Wisconsin and elsewhere is serious business (for more on the implications, check out this recent Knowledge@Wharton story.) But you don’t have to watch The Daily Show to find some levity in the situation.

In fact, you need not look any further than Rockford, Ill., located just a few miles from the Wisconsin state line. In an ultimately unsuccessful effort to stop the advancement of the budget bill that contained the collective bargaining provision, 14 Democratic senators from the Badger State sought refuge in Rockford.

Amid the resulting hoopla, the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau sensed a marketing opportunity. Enter the “Hideaway in Rockford” campaign, an effort to extol the region’s virtues to both on-the-run lawmakers and those seeking a weekend getaway.

The group and Rockford Mayor Larry Morrissey offered to host a so-called “summit” between Walker and the “Wisconsin 14″ at a local public garden. At the same time, they made sure to point out the site’s “grace, elegance and gentle awareness,” according to the Rockford Register Star. Local businesses got in on the act by offering specials tied to the campaign.

Most amusing, however, is the trilogy of promotional videos. The first has since garnered more than 100,000 views on YouTube. The second and third introduced two Wisconsin state troopers (each sporting a foam “cheesehead” hat) ostensibly sent by Walker to track down the rogue legislators. The troopers don’t have much luck, however — they’re too busy hitting the local hotspots and hanging out with area celebrities (including the mayor and Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen, a Rockford native.)

In the end, the troopers make an arrest — but it’s not who you think. John Groh, president of the visitor’s bureau, told Reuters that the organization wasn’t trying to make a political statement with its efforts. Rather, “what we’re just trying to say is that even in life’s most tense moments, it’s important to push the pause button and get away.”

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"From Protest to Promotion." Knowledge@Wharton. The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, [17 March, 2011]. Web. [31 July, 2014] <http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/from-protest-to-promotion/>

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"From Protest to Promotion" Knowledge@Wharton, [March 17, 2011].
Accessed [July 31, 2014]. [http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/from-protest-to-promotion/]


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