Inspired By Wis. Democrats, Rockford Launches 'Hideaway' Tourism Campaign

Capitalizing on the union controversy in neighboring Wisconsin, the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau (RACVB) in Rockford, Ill., has launched a "Hideaway in Rockford" campaign that it describes as a "cheeky promotion showcasing the city as a travel destination for state legislators and leisure visitors alike."

Introduced last month, the campaign was inspired by the three-week standoff between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Democrats in the state legislature, who fled across state lines into Illinois — some of them to Rockford — in order to avoid voting on a controversial bill that was ultimately passed last week, limiting labor unions' collective bargaining rights.

The campaign's centerpiece is a video featuring a "search for senators" with cameos by recognizable Rockfordians, including Cheap Trick rocker Rick Nielsen, a sock monkey and the city's mayor. Within just 72 hours of being uploaded on YouTube, the video generated more than 70,000 views and became the 38th most viewed travel and events video on YouTube.

"Unlike Wisconsin's state senators, the video isn't low-key; it's been a real runaway hit," said RACVB President and CEO John Groh. "Folks are gravitating to the video, just like senators gravitated toward the Illinois state line."

Along with the video, the "Hideaway in Rockford" campaign highlights Rockford's "hideaway hotspots" and special "runaway rates" at local hotels, attractions and restaurants. For more information, visit