Illinois Tourism Delivers Final Mile With Online Store

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The Illinois Tourism Board has added online shopping by creating a store on its Web site, spurred by consumer response to its ongoing "Mile After Magnificent Mile" campaign.

The new site at www.enjoyillinois.com/shopoffbeat was the offshoot of consumer demand for copies of the tourism board's vintage posters used in the Mile After Magnificent Mile ad campaign. The posters were papered around the Midwest in shopping malls and on city walls.

"People love our posters," said Doug Rozen, managing director of RMG Connect Chicago, the JWT-owned agency handling direct and interactive marketing. "We had 3,000 requests from consumers who wanted to buy them, and there were a number of blogs that mentioned them."

The posters, created by local artists, are modeled on the vibrant travel posters of the 1920s, with each one illustrating an offbeat destination in Illinois. They are a major component of Mile After Magnificent Mile, which promotes three-day getaways to Midwesterners, encouraging weekend trips to destinations that can be reached on a tank of gas.

The slogan is a play on Chicago's Magnificent Mile shopping district. It urges travelers to appreciate Chicago but also to extend this attention beyond the city to the rest of the state.

The 3-by-4-foot posters can be viewed and ordered on the Illinois tourism site for $14.95 unframed and $35.99 framed. T-shirts, mugs, aprons and notebooks also are for sale.

Enjoyillinois.com sells merchandise while encouraging shoppers to travel. Users can scroll over a series of posters and click to buy the product or to book the getaway. All trips include free suggested itineraries of lesser-known destinations throughout Illinois.

Travelers have the option to choose an itinerary and then book hotels through the site's Expedia affiliation. The free itinerary includes maps and other literature about the tours. By booking through the site, users also get a $25 Shell gift card, offered by the oil company to promote its gas for these road-trip itineraries.

Other affiliates that connect to enjoyillinois.com include the sites at www.chicagotribune.com and www.weather.com.

At any given time, travelers have 50 suggested itineraries to choose from based on interests and regions. They include everything from a tour for history enthusiasts to a ladies' weekend. The tourism board's library includes 200 itineraries that are also accessible.

The campaign is a joint effort among ad agency JWT Chicago, RMG Connect and the tourism board. Beyond the online store, the campaign uses multichannel DM tactics like direct response television, e-mail newsletters, print, radio, online search and direct mail.

"The goal of this venture is to promote economic development through tourism from everything to state theme parks and hotels to historical sites and parks," Mr. Rozen said.

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