By Lynn & Cele Seldon

Along with Thousand Trails, another beloved travel brand is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019. This year also marks “50 Years of Love” in Virginia.

Back in 1969, when what would become Thousand Trails was opening its first campground in Chehalis, Washington, the “Virginia is for Lovers” campaign was established.

In 50 years, “Virginia is For Lovers” has become one of the most well-known travel slogans in the world. The now-iconic phrase and, eventually, brand, came from a creative team led by George Woltz of Martin & Woltz, Inc., a Richmond based advertising agency that started working on the Virginia State Travel Service (now the Virginia Tourism Corporation) account a year earlier. Woltz says a $100-a-week copywriter, Robert McLaughlin, originated advertising concepts like “Virginia is for history lovers,” and Virginia is for mountain lovers,” with the agency dropping the modifiers to create the “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan.

“ ’Virginia is for Lovers’ is one of the most iconic tourism slogans in the world, and we are thrilled to be celebrating ’50 Years of Love’ with tourism partners in 2019,” said Rita McClenny, president and CEO of the Virginia Tourism Corporation.

The timing was simply ideal for “Virginia is for Lovers.” Erich Segal’s “Love Story” and Jacqueline Susann’s “The Love Machine” were bestsellers, Henry Mancini scored hits like “Love Theme” and “Romeo and Juliet,” and August’s Woodstock (celebrating peace, love, and rock and roll) followed in the wake of 1967’s so-called “Summer of Love.” Little could Woltz and McLaughlin have known that the Volkswagen “Love Bug” and microbuses with peace signs on the dashboard would be followed by station wagons with wood paneling and motor homes of all types as travel vehicles of choice.

Exactly 40 years later and hundreds of thousands of usages in ads and much more, “Virginia is for Lovers” was inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Hall of Fame, coming on the heels of Forbes.com tapping the slogan as one of the top ten tourism marketing campaigns of all time.

The Virginia Tourism Corporation is leading a promotion during the summer of 2019 and will appropriately kick off on the first day of summer—Friday, June 21, 2019. It will end 50 days later—Saturday, August 10, 2019.

The campaign will, of course, be called “50 Years of Love.” Lots of Virginia destinations will be hosting events, programs, special offerings, and much more throughout the 50-day period. A total of $390,000 in grants is enabling 39 tourism marketing programs across the state to help increase awareness and visitation. “This grant program provides an engaging opportunity for destinations across the state to showcase what makes a vacation in Virginia so special and helps to show travelers why ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ still rings true 50 years later,” added McClenny.

“Virginia is for Lovers” has meant many things to throngs of residents and veteran and new visitors. Just like Thousand Trails, it welcomed generations to the beaches, forests, mountains, lakes, outdoor activities, history, hospitality, and so much more.

Show some love and visit www.virginia.org for lots of “lovely” Virginia travel information.

Categories: Local Guides