04 JUL 2019: While we have no way of knowing how many lovers have actually visited the state of Virginia over the course of the iconic “Virginia is for Lovers” slogan’s now 50-year lifespan, there’s little doubt that the tagline is one of travel’s, if not marketing in general’s, best. Even Coca Cola didn’t warble “It’s the real thing” for half a century.  

Which got me to thinking, what are travel’s best all-time marketing slogans – words or images that inspire/inspired people to travel, or, at the very least, automatically conjure thoughts of a particular destination, or perhaps have even become part of the lexicon of life?


• I heart New York: Introduced in 1977, the classic slogan was paired with a song of the same name designed to be the state’s official “anthem.” Mostly associated with New York City, the slogan belongs to the entire state and is still in use – and indeed adorns all manner of T-shirts, buttons, and other paraphernalia.

• It’s better in the Bahamas: It’s not clear when the advertising tagline was first used or the circumstances of its creation, but such is the ubiquity of what has become the island nation’s national slogan (cliché?) that it is considered to have been around for as long as people can remember. (It’s so long ago that I can remember a poster on the office wall with a wet T-shirt clad beauty rocking the slogan that would be unlikely to pass muster in today’s more politically correct and me-too world). Sadly, the late Abaco resident Simpson McKinney, who coined the phrase, isn’t telling. He passed away in 2014 at age 70.

• Getting there is half the fun: You know the phrase, but did you know it was coined by the Cunard Line? Indeed, what has been called the world’s best travel advertising slogan was introduced on posters in the 1950s when ocean crossings via transatlantic liners like Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary were being co-opted by the new jet travel age. The slogan is so good that it entered the everyday lexicon, so common it’s been largely forgotten from whence it came.

• What happens here stays here: Perhaps better known as “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” the campaign first concocted in 2003 has come to symbolize any secretive, sinful or libatious activity that the family, co-workers and local parish priest are best not knowing about. But no matter the user or context, images of the Nevada playground come to mind, coupled with how Sin City is guaranteed to release one’s inner party animal.

• Throw another shrimp on the barbie: Capitalizing on the Australia craze of the 1980s, Tourism Australia enlisted Crocodile Dundee star Paul Hogan to invite guests Down Under, at which point he promised to “slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you” whilst casually barbecuing in front of Sydney Harbour and its iconic Opera House. The actual 1984-90 campaign’s slogan was “Come and say G’day,” but we’ll be forever throwing shrimp on the barbie. For some reason, a later slogan, “Where the bloody hell are you?” never caught on.

• One Love: Jamaica has boasted several memorable tourism campaigns over the years (remember Make it Jamaica Again?), but the best was born in 1994: One Love – a slogan still variously in use today, but only officially until 2003. Referencing the classic song by favourite son, Bob Marley, the slogan instantly embodies Jamaica, reggae, and the island’s laid-back vibe.

As for “Virginia is for lohearters,” the slogan has come full circle since it was introduced in 1969. Whereas variations like “Virginia is for beach lovers” and “…mountain lovers” were at the time discarded in favour of a shorter version, current collateral has revived the beach tagline, along with other creative concepts like “Virginia is for oyster lovers.” The slogan has been voted one of the best travel campaigns ever and was inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame in 2009.

However, for my money the best tagline I think I’ve ever seen goes to Australia, though I’ll concede that the impact was decidedly local: Some years ago in a London UK men’s room, Tourism Australia strategically commandeered advertising space above the urinals to implore users: “Don’t look left, don’t look right, look Down Under!

While I’ve never been able to think about Australia in the same way again, the campaign was clearly effective: To this day, I still cannot go to a public loo without thinking about a ‘roo.

Virginia Tourism president and CEO Rita McLenny celebrates the 50th anniversary of her state’s iconic travel slogan at IPW





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Michael Baginski

Editor at Large, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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