By Barry Janoff
March 11, 2015: Over the past year, Travel Wisconsin has run a series of humorous ads featuring NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Adbul-Jabbar, acting as a pilot alongside Robert Hays, both of whom appeared in the classic comedic movie, Airplane!
That the TV spots and the movie both were written and directed by David and Jerry Zucker and Jim Abrahams has added authenticity and distinct nuances to the on-going campaign.
Travel Wisconsin has now taken a different flight pattern, breaking a spot this week that not only spotlights the state but features Bo Ryan, head coach for the University of Wisconsin men's basketball team, which taps into the upcoming NCAA Men's Div. I Basketball Tournament.
This leg of the campaign is anchored by a spot, "Bo Ryan Experiences Fun In Wisconsin," in which Ryan, known for both his basketball I.Q. and grand sense of showmanship, finds relief from the pressures of the hoops sidelines by visiting Wisconsin hot spots with a unique travel guide, the Travel Wisconsin Superhero, who comes off as a low-budget Superman.
The effort also includes radio, print, outdoor, Internet, social media and a “Travel Wisconsin Off-Court Matchup,” is a friendly head-to-head competition featuring in-state tourist attractions that will enable visitors to follow the Badgers through the post-season.
Led by center Frank Kaminsky, the team currently is in in first place entering the Big Ten Tournament, being played this week in Chicago's United Center, and likely to secure a high seed in the NCAA Tournament on Selection Sunday (March 15).
Kaminsky is on the short list of NCAA National Player of the Year candidates and for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award as college basketball's top center under the auspices of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. and is predicted to go as a top draft pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.
Ryan himself is up for a number of honors, including national Coach of the Year.
"Bo Ryan was an incredibly good sport during the filming of this ad," Stephanie Klett, secretary and spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, said in a statement. "We're so lucky to claim him as our own Wisconsin icon, and thankful to the Hollywood directors who lent their talents to, once again, capture the fun of Wisconsin in such an entertaining and memorable way."
The spot premieres during the Big Ten and NCAA Basketball Tournaments and will run in Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Milwaukee and Madison, as well as online.
The “Travel Wisconsin Off-Court Matchup” mimics a March Madness bracket, here pitting iconic Wisconsin tourism attractions against popular attractions from the state of the team that will face the Badgers in the NCAA Tournament. Visitors are being asked to chose their favorite at a dedicated Web site.
"[We are] thankful to the Hollywood directors who lent their talents to, once again, capture the fun of Wisconsin in such an entertaining and memorable way."
The commercial opens with a clearly stressed Ryan on the sidelines during a hoops game, pulling out his hair, stressing out and making over-exaggerated gestures and faces, as he does during actual basketball games,
Seeing Ryan's plight, the Travel Wisconsin Superhero arrives on-court and then takes Ryan to such in-state travel destinations as Wisconsin Dells and the Northwoods, where the coach gets to water ski, drive a go kart and ride a zipline. The final scene sees Ryan sitting around a campfire with a group of people, singing and roasting marshmallows. (See the full spot here.)
"Wisconsin — amazing what a little fun will do," says Travel Wisconsin Superhero.
According to Ryan, "It's always fun to go outside your comfort zone, and working with the Department of Tourism to shoot this commercial was just that. I’m proud to live in this state, I love its people and I’m so happy to promote Wisconsin tourism.”
Kareem Flies Airplane! To Wisconsin
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