City launches 'Gotta Be Superior' travel campaign

After eight months in development, Swim Creative rolled out a new campaign to draw 'characters' to Superior's shore.

Gotta Be Superior home.png
The new Gotta Be Superior website helps visitors decide what to do, where to eat and where to stay during travel to the city.
Contributed / Gotta Be Superior

SUPERIOR — The city is taking a new approach to marketing itself to likely visitors.

After eight months of research and developing strategies and concepts, Swim Creative presented the Superior City Council with the campaign that launches this week in Eau Claire and Madison.

“We are really excited to talk about Gotta Be Superior tourism campaign,” Stephanie Dunaiski, a copywriter for Swim Creative, said Tuesday, Feb. 7. “We’re going to start off by telling you what we found out about you, Superior.”

Dunaiski said Superior and Douglas County have kept their "uncommon charm" quiet for too long, and it's time to get the word out in a unique way that differentiates Superior from other communities.

"Superior and Douglas County are incredible tourist destinations, and we need to let people know,” Dunaiski said. “In the past, Superior has been overshadowed by Duluth. Not much has been done to truly promote and focus in on the unique personality of the area. With so many destinations on Lake Superior, we all know the competition is pretty tough. Many of the communities in the area are competing really for the same audiences."


The campaign and the way Swim Creative is branding Superior were inspired by what the organization found during its research, Dunaiski said.

An overarching theme of the campaign is that characters are welcome. She said adjectives that describe Superior and Douglas County include real, easy going, quirky, thrifty, welcoming, unique, retro and nostalgic; she said the campaign's voice will be bold, playful, surprising, quirky, light-hearted, edgy, and breaking the rules.

"We don't want to look like Duluth, because we're not," said Patrice Bradley, founder and CEO of Swim Creative.

The campaign, which kicks off Tuesday, Feb. 14, includes radio spots, bus boards highlighting Superior in the Madison and Eau Claire areas, as well was 15- and 30-second videos to encourage visitors to “stay on the fun side of the bridge” and visit the “original Twin Port.”

Bradley said elements of the campaign will encourage people to visit the city’s new tourism website,

Councilor Tylor Elm asked why the campaign is targeting Eau Claire and Madison and how Swim Creative determined the target audience.

Bradley said Swim contracted with a woman to do on-the-street surveys and other research and determined that people who live in Wisconsin like to stay in Wisconsin.

"We found this guy named Stewart; he just personifies the 'characters welcome.' You don't know if he's 25 or 40, and he's just charming. He's so positive. He's fun," Bradley said of the man who appears in several of the video spots.


“I just want to say I like it,” Councilor Mike Herrick said following the presentation.

“This is really impressive and a lot of fun,” Councilor Jenny Van Sickle said. “I love the retro vibe. I’m not from Superior, so I’m always trying to describe Superior, and the commission has so, so much to be proud of in this work.”

Councilor Lindsey Graskey, chair of the tourism development committee, said she is excited to see how it goes.

While it's good that officials like the campaign, Mayor Jim Paine said locals visiting some of the spots highlighted would be icing on the cake.

"This campaign isn't for us," Mayor Jim Paine said. "We live here. It would be great if this encourages you to go to World of Wheels. I hope it does. This is for bringing people to Superior and hopefully discovering the things we love about it. A bonus would be if it gets us to look at Superior in a different and fun way. That's some of the branding that I appreciate.”

Shelley Nelson is a reporter with the Duluth Media Group since 1997, and has covered Superior and Douglas County communities and government for the Duluth News Tribune from 1999 to 2006, and the Superior Telegram since 2006. Contact her at 715-395-5022 or
What To Read Next
Get Local