Mon April 1, 2013
Move Over, Super PACs: Regional Tourism Group Unleashes Negative Ad Campaign
A shocking newspaper exposé in Wausau is apparently not all that it seems to be: The newspaper’s April 1 edition reveals an escalation in the tourism war between northern and central Wisconsin.
There are negative ad campaigns in politics, but according to the blockbuster story on the front page of Wausau’s weekly City Pages, negative ads will soon affect the fight for northern Wisconsin tourism dollars. In its April 1 edition, the newspaper reveals a billboard campaign by the Northwoods Tourism Coalition which will use the slogan, “Our Fish Are NOT Dead!”
City Pages publisher Tammy Stezenski says it is a reference to the recurring fish kill problems in central Wisconsin’s Big Eau Pleine Reservoir: “We were shocked and deeply saddened that the fish kill in the Big Eau Pleine would be exploited by people up north who we thought were our friends.”
Stezenski says she got the scoop from a central Wisconsin tourism official who went on record only if the paper agreed to not release her name, Gina Cornelius: “What Gina told us was hard to believe. This Northwoods Tourism Coalition is actually going to put up billboards that read ‘Head North: Fishing Stinks in Marathon County.’”
The slogan is a clear reference to the smell of dead fish in the Eau Pleine reservoir. Stezenski says the unnamed official, Gina Cornelius, told her the central Wisconsin tourist agency would not retaliate with its own negative ads: “Gina told us they’re going to try to keep it positive. She said, ‘You don’t see us putting up billboards making fun of northern Wisconsin’s methamphetamine problem.’”
The proposed “Got Meth?” billboards will be replaced by a positive campaign about the virtues of central Wisconsin’s still-living carp and bullhead population. The City Pages story was timed to reach the maximum number of readers on April Fool’s Day.