RICHMOND, Va - The iconic slogan found on billboards, bumper stickers, tee shirts, and drink koozies celebrates its golden anniversary in 2019. The "Virginia is for Lovers" advertising motto was created 50 years ago.
In 1969, the advertising firm now called the Martin Agency came up with the concept, according the Virginia tourism commission. Tourism officials tell the tale of how the "bold and provocative" originally came about.
"The phrase came from a creative team headed by George Woltz of Martin & Woltz Inc., the Richmond advertising agency that won the Virginia State Travel Service account in 1968. According to Martin, a $100-a-week copywriter named Robin McLaughlin came up with an advertising concept that read, "Virginia is for history lovers." For a beach-oriented ad, the headline would have read, "Virginia is for beach lovers"; for a mountains ad, "Virginia is for mountain lovers," and so on. Martin thought the approach might be too limiting. Woltz agreed, and the agency dropped the modifier and made it simply "Virginia is for Lovers." The new slogan debuted in a 1969 issue of "Modern Bride."
The "Virginia is for Lovers" campaign was inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame in 2009. Tourism officials admit "no one knows exactly why "Virginia is for Lovers" has been so durable, but part of the mystique of the slogan is that it has meant many things to different people."
Next to a giant "LOVE" sign sitting on a wagon at the Ashland train station, Greg and June Hodges said the phrase reminds them of the great natural beauty of the Commonwealth.
"The mountains, the seashore, the history. It's a little bit of everything," the Hodges said.
Chuck Southward brought his son to train station to check out the trains as they roll through.
"Late 60's, I was in the first grade, and I was in first grade. I had a bumper sticker, and I still have it on a cooler at home from I think when I was in scouts, in cub scouts," Southward said. "Everybody that you meet that comes here, they say people are kind. People are different everywhere, but I think Virginia is always been very open to people."
Virginia tourism officials are planning special experiences statewide in 2019 to celebrate the golden anniversary of the slogan, although no dates have been announced yet.BY JAKE BURNS