Wisconsin braces itself for “Mittengate,” still can’t think of its own tourism ideas
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As much as its residents and pop-culture websites may sing its praises, Wisconsin can be a hard sell to prospective tourists. Let’s face it: Wisconsin is cold, isolated, and, save for Milwaukee and Madison, kind of terrifying. Fortunately, there are groups like Travel Wisconsin that are tasked with finding new, fun, and inventive ways to lure tourists to the Dairy State. Unfortunately, those new, fun, and inventive ways always seem to be old, ridiculous, and already taken.
In an Associated Press story that finally introduces “mitten envy” into the lexicon, it’s reported that a new Travel Wisconsin promotion is raising the ire of our neighbors to the east:
The use of a mitten as part of a Wisconsin tourism promotion is attracting some attention in Michigan, which is known for its mitten-shaped Lower Peninsula.
Alex Beaton is founder of Awesome Mitten, a website launched in June that promotes all good things about Michigan. She tells the Kalamazoo Gazette she was dismayed to see the mitten image on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism website.
Wisconsin Department of Tourism spokeswoman Lisa Marshall said the image of a knit mitten shaped like the state of Wisconsin went into use online Dec. 1. She noted that people in Wisconsin also consider their state to be mitten-shaped.
Dave Lorenz, manager of public and industry relations for the state of Michigan, said with a chuckle that Michigan understands Wisconsin’s “mitten envy.”
If this sounds familiar, it should. Back in 2009, Travel Wisconsin—then simply known as the Wisconsin Department of Tourism—was justly mocked when its new slogan, “Live Like You Mean It,” was discovered to be a pre-existing slogan for, among other things, Bacardi rum. This new faux pas isn’t quite as wrongheaded, but hopefully the Midwest’s two vaguely left-handed-mitten-shaped states can hash things out.
Here’s a Travel Wisconsin promo from happier times, featuring Milwaukee’s own Trusty Knife: