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Monday, July 1, 2013

It’s Not Your Forefathers’ Valley Forge Any More

You’ve seen George Washington’s serious expression on a dollar bill.

“We’re looking for an increase in weekend tourism traffic throughout Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania”
And his determined face crossing the Delaware.

But how about in a pair of sporty sunglasses and earbuds?

That 2013 look is part of the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau’s messaging to spark tourism: Weekends Rule!

“We wanted to bring a modern-day appeal to George,” comments Bill Fitzgerald, president of the bureau. “Bump up his coolness factor.”

Fitzgerald outlines the goals of the campaign: “We’re looking for an increase in weekend tourism traffic throughout Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania,” he says. “So this update to George is part of our messaging to neighboring states and beyond of the excellent shopping, history, culture and leisure opportunities we’ve got year-round.”

Weekends Rule is also intended to increase the bureau’s website traffic. “New and return visitors to our site find it more than just a listing of places, dates and events. We’re engaging the public, telling our story in ways that include a new blog, The Pursuit,” Fitzgerald explains.

“We honor our historical past, without being trapped by it,” he says.

The updated Weekends Rule imagery sprung from both the bureau’s new outlook and the ingenuity of its marketing agency, Boyd Tamney Cross. BTC CEO Joseph Tamney recognized the riskiness of updating a historical icon, and therefore insisted that the makeover “…contemporize George Washington without making fun of him. With billions of messages being pumped at people daily, if it doesn’t have an edge, it isn’t seen.”

The Weekends Rule campaign is multi-faceted. In cooperation with the With Love, Philadelphia initiative, it includes a “station domination” of New York’s Penn Station. With notes like “Dear Hikers and Bikers, Let’s Rendezvous in Valley Forge,” posters throughout the concourse are designed to catch the eye of the estimated 300,000 daily commuters who stream through the busiest transportation hub in the U.S.

More subtle messaging positions Valley Forge as an escape from big city hustle and bustle. Pictured under the tagline “Open Spaces/Fun Places,” billboards depict couples strolling through park greenery, shoppers leisurely checking out new fashions and serene kayakers paddling through calm waters.

The reach of the ads extends northward to New York and northern New Jersey, but also westward to Harrisburg, Lancaster and York. “With Gettysburg celebrating its 150th anniversary, Pennsylvania is going to attract hoards of history buffs in the coming weeks. Valley Forge is about two hours away by car; in one weekend, visitors can easily experience two of the most historic conflicts in our nation,” reminds Fitzgerald.

“We are a great destination for a weekend getaway or a full-on vacation,” Fitzgerald says. “But our days as southeastern Pennsylvania’s best-kept secret are over. We’re flinging open the shutters and hanging the banners to 10 million potential visitors we expect to reach with the Weekends Rule messaging: Valley Forge is here; it’s got shopping opportunities unlike any other; unique museums and attractions; some of the finest dining anywhere; and accommodations that range from swanky and plush to cozy and quaint.”

Details on the many treasures of Valley Forge and Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, are available at valleyforge.org.