Virginia Tourism Goes to White & Baldacci

ATLANTA Virginia is still for lovers, but the commonwealth’s department of tourism has moved its advertising account from the capital to Northern Virginia.

White & Baldacci in Herndon, Va., has won the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s $4 million account following a review against finalists Barber Martin Advertising, Charles Ryan Associates and Siddall, all in Richmond, Va., and Williams Whittle Associates of Alexandria, Va. Work, the Richmond incumbent, did not defend.

The unanimous decision was based on an assignment issued by the six-member panel of tourism industry leaders to present a case study promoting Jamestown 2007, the historic settlement’s 400th anniversary.

“We put a campaign together that leveraged [VTC’s] dollars with other tourism partners,” said agency CEO Matt White. One idea involved creating programming and editorial content for magazine supplements and television shows.

VTC president and CEO Alisa Bailey said the panel wanted to see the finalists’ thought processes and choose an agency that understood the tourism industry and work as partners in extending the brand.

“They impressed the panel with a fully integrated approach to cultivating partnerships with diverse constituencies,” Bailey said about W&B. These include tourist attractions, corporate sponsorships and international markets.

The state’s 35-year-old tagline, “Virginia is for lovers” will remain, as will the traditional target markets Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York.

“The tagline is one of the most recognizable in the world,” said Bailey. “We’ll use it as a hook to expand the brand.”

A W&B print and television campaign is expected to break in late spring or early summer 2004.

“We’re going through a transition in the industry,” said Bailey. “As travelers make plans closer to their vacations, I expect we’ll make different kinds of placements than we did before.”