Chicago ad cites Texas controversies in move to lure companies, workers

Earlier this week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a new bill tightening state election laws that also “constrains local control of elections by limiting counties’ ability to expand voting options,” the Texas Tribune reported.

Democratic detractors are concerned it will raise significant barriers for marginalized voters, according to the Tribune. Abbott also signed an executive order in May banning public schools from mandating masks, and has not let up though he is being fought by some local jurisdictions and is facing a surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. The Supreme Court also declined to block a new Texas law barring abortions after six weeks.

The asterisk refers readers to a link to those 100-plus reasons why the city is good for business, including its tech ecosystem and recent run of $1 billion tech “unicorn” valuations. It follows on a recent effort from a local tech booster P33 and WBC to lure tech workers and companies back here, and a visit from Mayor Lori Lightfoot to San Francisco in the hopes of getting Silicon Valley to consider Chicago for relocations and expansions.

Since May, P33 has been running billboard and Facebook ads—funded in part by World Business Chicago—as part of its “Come Back to Move Forward,” campaign. Austin and Dallas are among the target ad markets.

Michael Fassnacht, the city’s chief marketing officer and the President and CEO of World Business Chicago and former CEO of FCB Chicago, says the pitch isn’t about attacking Texas, but highlighting Chicago’s values. That inclusivity is especially relevant “for young talent,” he says, who are one of the main targets of the ad, in addition to venture capital groups, startup entrepreneurs and corporations looking to expand or move.

“It’s inviting, not criticizing,” Fassnacht says, and subtly highlights the city’s diversity—underlying images are of Chinatown and Little Village. The ad will appear in the Sunday print edition only—not online—which would reach about 200,000 readers, Fassnacht says. “We want to be very mindful of how we invest our dollars, and a print ad is enough.”

Will the city place one in another city next, maybe Austin? “We’ll see. We always like to do something, get the reaction line from it and move on.”