Fred VanVleet says BYG2RKFD and stay awhile

Fred VanVleet finished a four-season runs as some of the most popular players at Wichita State and his nation-wide appeal grew significant.

Part of that appeal came from his story of growing up in Rockford, Ill., and his connection to that city. The same applies to teammate Ron Baker, as the unknown from Scott City. People love those tales and both players, and their families, told their stories in compelling ways.

Rockford knows that VanVleet’s story and his loyalty is a powerful theme. The Rockford Area & Convention Bureau started work in July on a marketing campaign using VanVleet and his connection to the city.

“He is a perfect ambassador for telling an authentic sports success story, and that’s the direction we really want to go with a lot of our marketing efforts,” Nick Povalitis, sales manager for the bureau, wrote in an e-mail. “His story speaks to both residents and visitors. And perhaps the most important thing was to create something that Fred is also proud of and wants to continue to be a part of, so we are looking at this as a long-term partnership with him.”

Povalitis wrote that they did the photo shoot in July, when VanVleet, now with the Toronto Raptors, spent some of his time at home in between NBA summer league and other basketball work. The campaign appears in the Sports Planning Guide rolled out earlier this month. Rockford is, of course, aiming to lure sports tournaments to its courts, fields, rinks, motels and restaurants.

Paul Suellentrop: 316-269-6760, @paulsuellentrop