Modern Bride magazine in an issue in 1969 included an advertisement proclaiming that “Virginia is for Lovers.” It was the first such ad in a campaign that has become one of the most successful in America.
In 1969, in a desire to draw more young visitors to Virginia, the Virginia State Travel Service—now the Virginia Tourism Corporation—turned to the Martin and Woltz, Inc. advertising agency to create a new tourism campaign. Now the Martin Agency, the firm originally came up with the idea of a multi-faceted approach—Virginia is for History Lovers, Virginia is for Beach Lovers, Virginia is for Mountain Lovers and so on. Deciding that was too broad, the agency landed on Virginia is for Lovers, a phrase that has endured now for close to fifty years after that first ad appeared in Modern Bride.
While many have assumed that Virginia is for Lovers refers to honeymoons and romance, the intention from the beginning and still today is to encompass the message that Virginia is a place where tourists and travelers can pursue the many things they love—outdoor activities, exploring history, wine tasting, fine dining and much more. None of that excludes honeymoons and romance, however.
Forbes.com recognized Virginia is for Lovers as one of the top ten tourism marketing campaigns of all time. It was inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame in 2009 along with other such notable brand campaigns as the Budweiser Clydesdales and the “Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there” slogan.
Virginia is for Lovers® is the Commonwealth’s registered trademark and the official tourism logo and slogan. It is one of the most recognizable labels for any state. In recent times the Virginia is for Lovers slogan has been reduced to simply LOVE. At travel centers and tourist attractions the three to four-foot letters—LOVE—are proudly displayed having been made of different materials. The LOVE signs appeared at Lake Anne Plaza last summer next to the statue of Robert E. Simon. Like any popular slogan, the word love automatically translates into the full slogan in the viewer’s mind.
As a native Virginian I can confirm that there are a great many things to love about Virginia. Virginia is for Lovers is more than just a marketing slogan to attract tourists; it’s a reminder to explore and embrace our wonderful Commonwealth. It is a welcoming message for newlyweds as well as those raising a family or settling into retirement.