Special Report: ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ turns 50

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RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — For a state so rich in history, it seems fitting for Virginia to lay claim to the oldest tourism slogan in the country.

The iconic “Virginia is for Lovers” turns 50 years old this year. 

In 1969 a young copywriter Robin McLaughlin at the Martin Agency in Richmond came up with the line “Virginia is for History Lovers.” The story goes Mr. Martin said let’s drop the “history” part and then it can apply to anything.

Fifty years later, and it’s one of the most of the most recognizable catchphrases in the world. 

The very first ad appeared in a 1969 issue of Modern Bride. The ad shows the first “honeymoon” in Jamestown. At the bottom of the picture, for the first time in print, it reads “Virginia is for Lovers.”

“It really has had staying power because I think it brings a sense of happiness and a smile,” explained Rita McClenny, president  and CEO of Virginia Tourism. “You know it’s love so it really brings a good feeling.” 

The slogan is now found on everything from bumper stickers, to t-shirts to country music songs. The Martin Agency still has the Virginia Tourism account. 

“It’s pretty amazing for a slogan to last this long,” said Trent Patterson, senior vice president and creative director at the Martin Agency.  

Patterson tells 10 On Your Side the newest take on the ad campaign is called Love Share, “to not only tell people there’s a million amazing things to do here but that also we’re bringing people together to connect on a closer level,”

The goal is to draw tourists to the state and show no matter what you love, you can probably find it in Virginia. 

Th ad slogan has won numerous awards over the years, even earning a spot on Madison Avenue’s Advertising Walk of Fame. 

Fifty years on, and no one has any plans on making any changes to the line used to market the Commonwealth to the rest of the world. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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