The Illinois Office of Tourism promotions starring Mini Abe were so successful in 2013 that they are continuing in 2014, said Jen Hoelzle, Deputy Director, during the Illinois Governor’s Conference on Travel & Tourism on Tuesday, February 4. The conference, held this year at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, allows staff of convention and visitors bureaus (CVBs) and others involved in tourism throughout the state to garner new marketing ideas through speaker sessions and networking.
Mini Abe, a whimsical doll about the size of a Ken doll but with the face and clothing of Abraham Lincoln, was introduced at the 2013 conference in the Mini Abe’s Spontaneous Somewhat Super Premiere commercial, in which Mini Abe zip lines, drives racecars, and rides amusement park rides, yelling in fear with each experience. Mini Abe was an immediate hit, and soon the Illinois Office of Tourism was receiving requests from regional CVBs inquiring how they could get a Mini Abe of their own. In response, Mini Abe went on tour and became a star of the Enjoy Illinois and regional CVB social network sites, with photos posted of Mini Abe posed in area attractions on Facebook and Twitter. Mini Abe visited 17 CVBs in 2013.
A Fall 2013 Mini Abe commercial was named Adweek’s Ad of the Day in October, and BuzzFeed’s headline comment about the ad was, “This is, honestly, the best state tourism ad ever created.”
Mini Abe will be going abroad in 2014, with commercials being shown in Canada, the U.K., Germany and Japan, to lure international visitors to Illinois. The Illinois Office of Tourism partners with Brand USA, a public-private partnership with the mission of promoting international travel to the U.S. Through the partnership, Illinois has seen a 30% increase in budget for the second year in a row through other promotions. Certainly Mini Abe will do his part for the Land of Lincoln and entice even more visitors, both national and international, to visit Illinois.
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