Watch Telly Savalas, Skipper + Gilligan And Al Franken In Retro Duluth Tourism Commercials
Last spring, the City of Duluth announced a new branding and tourism marketing campaign, including the new tagline "Love It Like We Do", that would be used to promote the area moving forward.
Conceived by the Duluth Tourism Collaborative, consisting of the City of Duluth, Visit Duluth, and the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center (DECC), in partnership with Bellmont Partners and Lawrence & Schiller, the campaign highlights the area while using real Duluthians and travelers.
However, Duluth hasn't always had its residents and regular travelers to the area in its tourism campaigns. A quick scan of past campaigns finds a few cheesy advertisements that are truly time capsules.
First up, is a tourism commercial starring Telly Savalas, the actor best known for his role as a tough, New York City detective in the 1970s television series Kojak. Telly even had his catchphrase, "Who loves ya baby?", which he made sure to include in this classic ad that was filmed at Glensheen Mansion.
You may be wondering why Telly Savalas would be chosen to represent Duluth in the early 80s and why he'd even agree to come here and do it. Well, the answer has a lot to do with love. Savalas was married to Duluth native Julie Hovland and would frequent the area.
While Telly brought a little cool, retro vibe to his commercial, there was another 80's Duluth tourism commercial that brought nothing but cheese. However, you'd expect nothing less from The Skipper and Gilligan as they ham it up in the Northland.
Both Alan Hale Jr. and Bob Denver from the hit show 'Gilligan's Island' made their way to Duluth to film this gem in Canal Park. Look closely at the end of the commercial for the dark-haired man on the left of the screen standing next to The Skipper. That man is John Fedo, Duluth's Mayor at the time.
While many remember the Telly Savalas and Gilligan's Island campaigns, how many remember when Duluth used Al Franken and Tom Davis to promote the city?
"Franken & Davis" had already made a name for themselves in the 70s as a comedy team on Saturday Night Live and they were also involved in several movies, including sharing the screen in the classic 'Trading Places'.
In the 80s, the duo would star in a series of tourism commercials, with Franken playing the "Duluth Answer Man" and Davis taking the role of tourist.
While everyone associates Al Franken with Minnesota, where he served as a senator from 2009 to 2018, it was Tom Davis who was a Minnesota native. Davis was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Sadly, Tom Davis passed away in 2012.
Al Franken was born in New York City and moved to Minneapolis in 2005 with his wife Franni Bryson. They have a son, a daughter, and four grandchildren.
It's always fun to take a nostalgic look back at tourism campaigns such as these, especially when they involve celebrities from the past. Leads one to wonder if the City of Duluth were to hire a celebrity to represent the city today, who might that be?
For now, we have a new campaign featuring locals and not television stars, such as this latest winter campaign from Visit Duluth.
It's very well done and full of energy, but would it have hurt to toss in at least one "Who Loves Ya Baby"?