MADISON — Wisconsin tourism officials have a message for anyone considering visiting the state: C’mon in, it’s easy.

They unveiled a new TV spot Monday to promote the state. It features “Airplane!” actor Robert Hays playing a befuddled fisherman on a beautiful summer day where everything seems to go wrong.

In the 30-second ad, Hays is hit by a bucket he accidentally hooks with his fishing rod, smacked in the face by a loose deck board, and taken for an unplanned and painful tube ride. As a reward, a nice muskie is tossed in his lap and several bathing beauties — played by four former Wisconsin beauty pageant winners — lean in to make sure he’s OK.

The tagline: “It doesn’t take any special skill to enjoy Wisconsin, just drop in.”

The ad is due to begin running in May in Chicago, Minneapolis-St. Paul, eastern Iowa and Milwaukee.

The ad was shot last June at Plum Lake in Sayner, and was directed by Hollywood director David Zucker, who worked with Hays in the 1980s comedy hit. Laughlin Constable, a Milwaukee marketing agency, outlined the ad and Zucker and Hays filled in details.

Zucker, a native of Shorewood, said the ad was his first time working with Hays since “Airplane!” He directed his first Wisconsin Tourism ad in 2011.

Hays said he enjoyed his time in Wisconsin filming the ad, loved the cheese curds and now shares Zucker’s mania for the Green Bay Packers.

“If the movie business dries up, I could be doing this (commercials) or moving to Wisconsin,” he said.

Gov. Scott Walker joined Hays and Zucker to unveil the TV spot Monday during the annual Wisconsin Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Walker has proposed increasing funding to promote tourism by 1.4 percent over the next two years, or about $500,000.

Wisconsin Tourism pegged the industry at $16 billion in 2011, up 8 percent from the previous year.

“Wisconsin has got unbelievable attractions,” Walker said. “We are proud to show them off.”

(2) comments


David's right... Europeans have a lot more leisure time than Americans do (what is it? six weeks paid vacation for every German?). I think we're missing out on a lot of $$ by not letting them know what we have to offer.

David Lee
David Lee

I'll never understand the Wisconsin tourism. We never advertise for foreign tourist's like other states, and we are missing a lot of income. My friends in Europe are always amazed at what they can do when they visit, but they complain that it is almost impossible to find information in Europe to plan things for when they are in Wisconsin. Also, while the Chicago market is probably number one and will continue to be, we need to expand to areas other than Milwaukee or Minneapolis, they know what they are going to do. Pick other areas, why not target places like Pittsburgh, Cincinnati or New York. They aren't actually that far away, and often drive thru on the way to Yellowstone and other "destination" vacation spots. Also, reopen the tourism waysides and staff them properly. The local one does an adequate job but we need to greet visitors to the entire state and provide a lot more detailed information for people who are driving into the state. Use Texas and the Dakotas as example

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