MS. REBECCA SHEIR
First, though, not too long ago, TV watchers across the country might have come across this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ONE
Unbelievable things happen when you travel with your heart, completely connected to each other, to this place. Virginia, where love lives.
It's a 2010 commercial for, yes, Virginia. And as we all, no doubt, have heard...
MR. MIKE HUGHES
Virginia's for lovers.
It's one of the most well-known tourism campaigns ever and it comes to us care of the Richmond-based advertising company, Martin & Woltz, now known as The Martin Agency.
We do the Save Money, Live Better for Wal-Mart and we do A 15-minute Phone Call Could Save You 15 Percent or More and all those crazy GEICO commercials.
Mike Hughes is the agency's president. Now, you might have heard stories about how Virginia Is For Lovers was born, like, how it's a sly reference to Loving versus Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court case that legalized interracial marriage in the commonwealth. But as Hughes will tell you, there's no connection, though the slogan was born just a year after the case in 1968.
So the summer of love was over. Woodstock is yet to come. And Martin & Woltz had just won the state tourism account. According to Hughes, the creative team met one day in George Woltz's penthouse office.
Talking about how they advertise Virginia because Virginia has history and Virginia has beaches and Virginia has mountains.
And that's when this idea of lovers started getting tossed around. One person suggested...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE ONE
Virginia's for history lovers.
...another chimed in with...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE TWO
Virginia is for beach lovers.
Someone else called out...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE TWO
It's for mountain lovers.
And that's when a freelancer in the room suddenly piped up and asked...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE THREE
Why don't you just say Virginia is for lovers?
And, voila, a star slogan was born. Though, as Hughes says, at the time, it did feel just a little naughty.
And a little daring for this not-always-cutting-edge state, but I do think that, because the executions were never salacious or anything like that, it just started catching on.
And in a pretty big way. In 1969, when the agency unveiled the slogan, visitors to Virginia generated about $800 million. Nowadays, the commonwealth's annual tourist revenue tops $19 billion. But here's the thing, the original Virginia Is For Lovers logo was a black background with this bright red heart, right? So does the slogan also somehow refer to Virginia encouraging more romantic love than other states?
Well, many same-sex couples in the commonwealth might say no. In 2006, Virginia defined marriage as between a man and a woman. And just this week, same-sex couples made their annual Valentines' Day pilgrimage to courthouses to apply for marriage license and, of course, get rejected, their goal, to highlight the disparity between Virginia's gay couples and straight couples when it comes to marriage.
But, speaking of straight couples and marriage, turns out fewer and fewer of them are tying the knot.
MR. BRAD WILCOX
So in 2000, about 59 percent of Virginians -- adults were married, 18 to 64 and in 2010, that had fallen to about 53 percent.
Brad Wilcox directs the University of Virginia's National Marriage Project, and what's interesting, he says, is while fewer Virginians are getting married...
I think the people are more gun-shy, particularly in the wake of the recession to go ahead and get married.
Fewer are getting divorced, too.
They're also more gun-shy to end the marriage, you know, given all the economic uncertainty that's facing, uh, the state and the country as a whole.
Despite the declining numbers, Virginia's marriage and divorce rate still surpassed the national average. But marriage, divorce, they only tell part of the story. Romantic love can be measured by other things, too, right? That's why we swung by an arguably romantic spot in Virginia, Old Town Alexandria, where we ducked in to a little French bistro on King Street. We headed to the upstairs piano bar and asked patrons if Virginia is, indeed, for lovers of the romantic variety.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE THREE
I actually think it is, too. There's a lot of romantic places in Virginia. Alexandria is a wonderful, romantic city. We've also got Virginia Beach and a lot of great bed and breakfasts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE FOUR
Well, I went to school in the Shenandoah Valley, and that part of it certainly is for lovers. I used to tell people it's where they keep all the stars. It's just amazing. You see so many more stars than you would see in the middle of D.C., for example.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE FIVE
I've lived in many states, but having come to Virginia, I have found that it is, indeed, for lovers. You're caught between the warmth of the South and the intellectual insights from the North, and it kind of leads you in a particular direction and that direction is love.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE FOUR
You know, I think Virginia is for people that have a love of something, a passion for something.
And that passion, says Alisa Bailey, the Virginia Tourism Corporation's president and CEO, is precisely the point. In fact, as she mentions in this 2009 video commemorating the slogan's 40th anniversary, she thinks Virginia Is For Lovers has come to be misunderstood.
MS. ALISA BAILEY
Some people connote it with romance, and they think all it's about is romance. Really, what it's about, it's a love of travel and a passion for living.
And, of course, The Martin Agency's Mike Hughes agrees.
You can go to places in Virginia that are so inspiring for their natural beauty, for their historical background. Nobody knows quite where love comes from, but I think this is an awfully good environment for planning it and growing it.
For more on Virginia Is For Lovers, including how the logo has morphed throughout the years, visit our website, metroconnection.org.
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