The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center has won “Best Tourism Marketing Campaign” by the Illinois Excellence in Tourism Awards for their 2018 campaign which supported their first-ever self-curated exhibit.
The exhibit, titled “Stories of Survival,” launched July 2018 and featured photos with handwritten stories of objects from genocide survivors. As the Museum prepared for their launch and success of the exhibit, they needed to increase awareness amongst Chicagoans and tourists alike.
The Museum partnered with VSA to tell a bigger story, specifically through the lens of one singular item that was part of the collection.
That one item was a tattered, one-eyed teddy bear that belonged to a little girl—and that teddy bear had a big story to tell. Before soldiers came and took her and her family from their home, the little girl buried the bear in the backyard—where it stayed for three years. Waiting for her return. When she came back, she came back alone—the rest of her family victims of genocide. The one-eyed bear that was lost to her throughout that entire torturous time had become a symbol of her strength and survival.
In choosing this teddy bear, it became evident that objects are more than just “things,” rather a form of a security blanket. As a survivor, these “security blankets” can feel like the only normal thing you have left in the world. And when it goes missing, it can seem like all hope is truly lost.
“Lost Teddy” quickly became the headline for the marketing campaign, which used simple, black and white “Missing” posters. We used out-of-home and video content to target key audience groups within local communities and Chicagoland tourists.
Since launch, the Museum has seen 40% growth in both ticket sales and page views.