Explore St. Louis

Kidnapped Chicagoan

The Campaign

Can a kidnapping drive tourism?

Chicago is the biggest feeder market for St. Louis tourism, but high media costs have depressed Explore St. Louis’s advertising efforts in the market. On a shoestring budget, we set out to capture Chicagoans attention (and tourism dollars) with an unconventional campaign.
We staged a faux-kidnapping and shared highlights from the captive’s time in St. Louis via a smartphone-led mystery plot. The campaign generated a ton of buzz—earning local network coverage, 23,000 unique web visitors, and 2,000 voicemails offering well-wishes for a safe return to Chicago.

We staged a faux-kidnapping and shared highlights from the captive’s time in St. Louis via a smartphone-led mystery plot. The campaign generated a ton of buzz—earning local network coverage, 23,000 unique web visitors, and 2,000 voicemails offering well-wishes for a safe return to Chicago.

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