The Virginia Tourism Corporation today marked the 50th anniversary of their brand Virginia is For Lovers® during a press conference at U.S Travel’s IPW 2019 at the Anaheim Convention Center. President and CEO of Virginia Tourism, Rita McClenny, kicked off the event for international travel press with a toast to 50 Years of Love, then shared with her special guests some of the many unique activities and new projects taking place across the Commonwealth this year. Rounding out the celebration was guest speaker Mike Whiteside, star of the internationally aired television series ‘Salvage Dawgs’, who shared his personal insight into why Virginia is for Lovers.
The state brand, Virginia is For Lovers® was created in 1969 and since its inception, has become one of the most beloved and well-known tourism and travel slogans in the world. By popular vote, Virginia is For Lovers® was inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame on September 21, 2009. The slogan was included in the Advertising Icon Museum alongside fellow 2009 inductees, the AOL Running Man, the Budweiser Clydesdales, and State Farm’s “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There.” This recognition came on the heels of Forbes.com tapping Virginia is For Lovers® as one of the top ten tourism marketing campaigns of all time.
“For 50 years we have lived, breathed and loved our brand – that is part of what makes Virginia so very special,” stated Rita McClenny. “Today, visitors from all around the globe are discovering love for Virginia’s mountains, beaches, history, vibrant cities, music, and booming culinary scene.”
To celebrate this milestone anniversary, participating regions across Virginia are joining in the fun in their own special way. Throughout 2019 there will be commemorative craft beers at breweries and lovers blends at wineries; 1969-inspired meals and prices at restaurants; special 50 Years of Love events, contests, giveaways, and much more.
“For example,” shared McClenny, “visitors to Virginia can stop by a vintage Volkswagen van, repurposed as a mobile visitor center, during Loudoun County’s ‘Summer of Love’ Tour. Or stay in a 50 Years of Love themed suite in Floyd.”
McClenny also highlighted some of the entertainment that has helped place Virginia on the world stage over the years, from Academy Award-winning movies to music videos. She shared with attendees some of the upcoming projects to film in Virginia – including the third series of The Walking Dead franchise, in production this summer, and Australia’s Dancing with the Stars to film this month at the home of the ever-popular movie Dirty Dancing: Virginia’s Mountain Lake Lodge in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
To toast the 50th anniversary at IPW 2019, Virginia Tourism served Greenhill Winery & Vineyards Blanc de Blanc. The award-winning Virginia wine has been included in past Oscar award gift bags and is a superb example of the fine vintages available from the almost 300 – and growing – wineries in Virginia.
Co-founder and CEO of Black Dog Salvage Mike Whiteside, who stars in the television hit ‘Salvage Dawgs’, was on stage with McClenny to show off more of Virginia through the lens of the show. ‘Salvage Dawgs’ follows the crew from Black Dog Salvage, one of the premier architectural salvage operations in the United States, as they secure remarkable pieces of America’s past hidden inside old structures before they are demolished and lost forever. Based in Roanoke, Virginia, the Black Dog Salvage ‘Dawgs’ comb virtually every corner of Virginia in search of treasure to reclaim, reuse and repurpose for a sustainable future. Season 10 of the long-running, popular show is now airing in the U.S. and will begin airing later this year internationally.
Whiteside said, “Virginia is steeped in so much of America’s early history, from Jamestown and Williamsburg to the Shenandoah, Appalachian Mountains and beyond. The treasured artifacts of those early years are lost every day as buildings age. Honoring Virginia’s architectural past by reclaiming it for future generations has been our mission for the past 20 years. We are happy to call Virginia our home and spread the LOVE to all that visit.”
Black Dog Salvage is adding their own singular offering in honor of the 50th anniversary. Visitors to Black Dog Salvage throughout 2019 who state ‘I celebrate 50 years of love’ to the staff at the main desk of the store will receive a special gift.