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Selling Cities: Roanoke and Virginia Beach

Selling Cities: Roanoke and Virginia Beach

Remember that moronic “Go Beachless” tourism campaign the city of Virginia Beach launched back in March? The one that cost a fortune and made absolutely no sense? The one most of us would like to forget?

Let me refresh your memory:

A few days after I wrote about that colossal waste of money and called it “sophomoric, confusing and cringe-inducing” I got a Facebook message with a link to another tourism promotion from someone I respect enormously: Sean Brickell, the president of Brickell & Partners Public Relations.

“Maybe not as good as Go Beachless but...” he wrote.

Whoa, I thought. Now that’s how you sell a region.

“Classy and majestic,” Brickell gushed about the Blue Ridge promo.

Seriously. This gorgeous ad made me want to grab my hiking boots and head to the mountains.

On Friday I talked to Landon Howard, president of Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge. He was clearly proud of the campaign, which was unveiled in April and paid for by five localities: The cities of Roanoke and Salem and the counties of Botetourt, Roanoke and Franklin.

He said feedback had been universally positive.

“From a creative standpoint we want people to think of us as a mountain vacation destination,” Howard told me.

Imagine that! A region that doesn’t need a branding expert to tell them what they are. The Blue Ridge is mountains, the way Virginia Beach is a shoreline.

The ad - there are several different versions and lengths - is playing mostly in North Carolina and Virginia and in the Northeast.

Tourism is exploding in the Blue Ridge, Howard told me. Evocative ad campaigns are fueling part of that.

Compare and contrast, folks:

Virginia Beach spent $3.2 million on its blockheaded “Go Beachless” campaign, which was cooked up by an ad agency. In Florida.

That breathtaking Blue Ridge ad? It cost just $1.2 million. 

Guess who made it? 

The BCF Agency. 

In Virginia Beach.

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