Ad of the Day: Illinois Tourism Banks on a Tiny, Screaming Abe Lincoln

Honestly odd

Headshot of Tim Nudd

You have to hand it to the Illinois Office of Tourism and JWT Chicago. They're not being overly precious with the image of Abraham Lincoln.

The Land of Lincoln rolled out a new tourism spot this fall starring "Mini Abe," a tiny plastic version of the 16th president who is seen grunting, groaning and shrieking his way around the state—enjoying everything it has to offer, from riverboats and county fairs to the Willis Tower and Route 66.

"Be more spontaneous this fall," says the on-screen copy line at the end, along with the URL and #MiniAbe hashtag.

The humor is undeniably odd, but it may be working. A spokeswoman for the tourism office tells the Chicago Business Journal that tourism inquiries made through are up 57 percent over a year ago.

You might not have thought of Lincoln as the most spontaneous man in history. But Illinois Tourism and JWT made it clear that he had loosened up when they introduced Mini Abe back in February—in a one-off spot tied to Academy Awards.

That ad, also posted below, wished Abe good luck that night—and indeed, Daniel Day-Lewis was named best actor for playing him, though the film itself was beaten out by Argo.

The earlier Oscars spot:


Client: Illinois Office of Tourism

Agency: JWT, Chicago

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.