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Is Wisconsin Stealing the Michigan 'Mitten' in New Ad Campaign?


“We understand their mitten envy."

Michiganders are getting territorial over their state's borders. No really, they're currently lashing out at border rival Wisconsin over the shape used in that state's new tourism ad.

The Wisconsin Department of Tourism launched a new campaign Dec. 1 to promote its winter tourism season. The image it choose to promote the campaign: a mitten. Some Michiganders are offended over this campaign infringing on their state's trademark mitten shape, and very common way to quickly give a visual representation of the state.

The Kalamazoo Gazette reported some of the following comments from Michiganders over the issue:

aartmark: The next time any Michigan team plays any Wisconsin team in any sport the Michigan fans should throw their old crusty mittens onto the playing field.

The truth is that the state of Wisconsin looks like the state of Wisconsin and nothing else.

You don't see Indiana using a mitten to represent their state.

WE alone are the BIG MITTEN and we have the responsibility to protect that.

Everyone knows that this is where Atlas placed his hand to hold up the Earth.

sonofadutch quipped: That mitt won't fit, they better quit.


John Steeno's Facebook comment: THIS IS SO TRUE! I've been living in Wisconsin for 4 years and when I hold up my hand to show them where I lived in Michigan, they all look at me like I'm crazy. "Wisconsin is like a hand" they say. That's when I punch them with my Michigans.

Todd Norwood said: Looks like a mitten I left too close to the fire while drying it out, eh! I do like living in Wisconsin and it's a beautiful place (minus the current political scene) but we certainly aren't the mitten State! Though, I suppose I'm biased with my MI roots...

Here's a post that appeared on Travel Wisconsin's Facebook profile:

But the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Communication Director Lisa Marshall said no slight or infringement was intended:

“The mitten was used as a single creative element, you guys still own the mitten,” she said. “We'd much rather our travelers consider us the “fun” state.”

Here is Travel Wisconsin's recent Facebook post:

Michigan's own manager of public and industry relations said the two tourism agencies are on friendly terms but that didn't stop him from throwing a little dig toward Wisconsin's campaign, the Gazette reports:

“We understand their mitten envy,” he said with a chuckle, “but there is only one mitten state, only one Great Lakes state, there's only one “Winter Wonderland state — only one, and it is Michigan. Pure Michigan.”

It may be important to note that Wisconsin's winter mitten campaign follows a similarly-themed fall campaign, which featured a colorful leaf shaped like the state. The Huffington Post also points out that an article from the late 1960s in the Chicago Tribune actually referred to Wisconsin as the "mitten-shaped state" and notes that the Michigan Historical Society couldn't identify when the mitten nickname was first used.

Editors note: Want to hear what Blaze staffers originally from Michigan and Wisconsin think about this issue? Check out Liz Klimas and Jon Seidl's blog posts here and here

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