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Star Tribune Looks at Winona’s Response to Super Bowl Ad Featuring the City

By now most folks who have watched TV or streamed something have seen Squarespace’s ad campaign featuring Winona Ryder in Winona, MN that debuted during last month’s Super Bowl.

But how did the city of Winona respond? The Minneapolis Star Tribune took a look at Visit Winona’s website response, as well as comments from some of Winona’s residents. 

Star Tribune reporter John Reinan writes, “The city of Winona expected to be showcased for the nation’s largest TV audience last month in an ad during the Super Bowl. What it got instead was a quirky spot for an internet company that featured actress Winona Ryder lying in a snowbank and having a conversation with a slow-witted police officer.”

Reinan takes a close up look at Visit Winona’s response to the big ad, writing, “the city’s tourism organization, Visit Winona, has created its own website — using Squarespace — inviting visitors to see “the rest of Winona.”

The piece looks Visit Winona’s site, “‘Winona is like a diamond with hundreds of brilliant facets,’ it says, noting that the bustling Mississippi River city boasts more than 100 individual properties and 13 entire blocks listed on the National Historic Register.” Reinan continues, “Visit Winona is printing a book with photos submitted by residents and, as part of its post-Super Bowl campaign, created a sweepstakes with a grand prize of an all-expenses-paid weekend visit to the city (registration for the sweepstakes is closed).”

The reporter examines the success of the counterprogramming campaign, quoting Visit Winona’s executive director Pat Mutter, “the website we made with Squarespace had more than 45,000 unique views,” and that the sweepstakes had over a thousand entries.

Reinan also quotes local Winonans like Winona County Historical Society executive director Genia Hesser, who says, “There was a lot of anticipation… It was a little bit of a letdown.'” She goes on to say, ‘had a Coen brothers vision that reminded me of ‘Fargo.'”

Winona Post publisher Patrick Marek is quoted as writing in a signed editorial, “Both Ryder and the city of Winona deserved better. As for the city of Winona, it took a lot of work to rub the luster off of one of the most beautiful cities in America.” He also wrote that the multi-million dollar ad turned, “a silk purse into a sow’s ear.” 

You can read the full feature here


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