Ads aim at Indy, Chicago

Columbus will be featured in new TV, radio, print and billboard ads aimed at older, travel-oriented residents in the Chicago and Indianapolis areas.

A video crew is scheduled to shoot at various downtown city landmarks and sights today.

The Columbus Area Visitors Center will mix a $50,000 investment with Indiana Office of Tourism Development dollars for spots expected to begin in the spring, said Karen Niverson, the visitors center’s executive director.

“Obviously, some people in the Chicago market already know about Columbus, and for them this can serve as a good reminder,” Niverson said. “But there are many others who don’t know all that Columbus has to offer.”

A team from Indianapolis-based Williams Randall Marketing, which developed the state’s promotional campaign theme of “Honest To Goodness Indiana,” will handle the advertisements, said Erin Hawkins, the visitor center’s marketing director.

Filming today will include stops at the Chaos I sculpture in The Commons, Irwin Gardens, the Miller House, North Christian Church and a couple of other elements, Hawkins said.

“Chicago’s an easy drive for a lot of people,” Hawkins said.

It also boasts the second-most metro city visitors to Columbus, behind Indianapolis, visitor center figures show.

Hawkins and Niverson mentioned that Chicago residents easily identify with Columbus because of the architecturally significant structures in both cities. That has been evident in The Republic’s interviews with local architectural tour visitors from the Windy City the past few years.

Niverson said the state’s support of the campaign makes possible the idea of buying so heavily into the Chicago media market.

“It’s really not that feasible for us alone to make that much of an impact in a market as expensive as Chicago exclusively with the resources we have,” Niverson said.

Columbus was a smaller part of the state advertising campaign last year in TV spots that ran in markets including St. Louis and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Shots included the top of the Robert N. Stewart Bridge and the Eos sculpture near Mill Race Park in one extended video set to a Jon McLaughlin pop paean to the state’s glories and treasures.

Niverson said that, if the latest campaign is successful, new visitors attracted by the campaign could arrive within a couple of months of the advertising rollout. She also mentioned that it’s too early to estimate how much of an economic return the ad investment could yield.

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Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.