Virginia's Blue Ridge Announces Historic Partnership with Kroger
Launching New Tourism Advertising Campaign Valued at $21.6 Million

Climbing Wall - Blue Ridge Standard Time

Roanoke, Virginia -- The Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau (RVCVB), the official destination marketing organization for Virginia's Blue Ridge (VBR) region, announced today a joint partnership with Kroger to launch a new advertising campaign valued at $21.6 million. A sixteen week ad campaign will be delivered in two eight-week flights that will position VBR as the mountain vacation destination choice for this summer and fall. The campaign will target Raleigh-Durham, Richmond, Hampton Roads, and Virginia Beach.

The VBR message will generate more than 60 million exposures, the vast majority of which will be focused on our target markets. An estimated total value of advertising and prizes along with the RVCVB's $400,000 campaign budget will grow to an effective advertising and marketing equivalency of more than $21.6 million dollars. That's a 54 to 1 match on the RVCVB dollar.

"We are so fortunate to join forces with Kroger and many other regional tourism partners to showcase Virginia's Blue Ridge," said Lee Wilhelm, RVCVB Board Chair. "By pooling our local resources together, we were able to leverage additional dollars to attract more visitors to the region. Tourism is BIG business!"

"Kroger has been a community partner in the Blue Ridge region for decades and is committed to contributing to improved economic conditions in the communities we serve," said Allison McGee, Customer Communications Specialist for Kroger. "Increased tourism is a great way to boost the economy and to demonstrate the excellent quality of life we all enjoy in the Blue Ridge region."

As a result of this partnership, the campaign will showcase 55 electronic kiosks that will be placed in Kroger stores in target markets as well as the greater Roanoke region including Salem, Vinton, Blacksburg, Christiansburg, Daleville and Franklin County. During the first eight-week flight (May 19th- July 9th), these kiosks will promote an exclusive contest to enter to win prizes and encourage visitation to VBR. A total of 165 prizes valued at over $62,000 will be awarded in the first flight. A similar sweepstakes campaign will run during a fall flight (August 25th - October 18th). Prize selections for the second fight will be announced during late-summer 2014.

The VBR campaign theme is "Blue Ridge Standard Time." The idea is, when you set your watch to Blue Ridge Standard Time road trips are a little shorter, weekends a little longer, a dollar goes a little further and the memories can last a lifetime.

"This region is rich with activity and experiences just waiting to be discovered," said Landon Howard, RVCVB President. "We want to attract visitors to our region and promote ‘Blue Ridge Standard Time,' a break from fast-paced life and a relaxed way of living."

Set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains and the vibrant communities that call it home, the campaign's television spot encourages people to take pause, look up from their cell phones and appreciate their surroundings and the people they're with - but sometimes, it's important to get away in order to make this happen. "Sometimes, we have to go somewhere to stop...and for this, there's no place like Virginia's Blue Ridge," states the ad campaign's television spot's narrator.

According to Tony Pearman, CEO of Access Advertising & Public Relations, the agency that, in partnership with Mikula-Harris, developed the campaign and television spot, the concept of ‘Blue Ridge Standard Time' pays homage to the place both agencies call home. Dave Perry, local cinematographer, produced the television spot.

"The task of helping shine a spotlight upon a place we all feel so passionately about helped us rise to the occasion and strive to exceed the very high expectations set by Virginia's Blue Ridge," said Pearman.

The campaign encourages the traveling public to visit for a chance to win a Blue Ridge Standard Time experience: a two-night family vacation with accommodations at The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center, custom designed bike from 611 Bicycles/Hometown Bikes, custom item from Black Dog Salvage, Texas Tavern and Black Dog Salvage gift certificates and apparel, and VIP passes to local and regional attractions.

In addition to Kroger, a variety of other local sponsors are supporting the campaign including Black Dog Salvage, 611 Bicycle/Hometown Bikes and Texas Tavern.

Blue Ridge Standard Time Small LogoPrizes include, but are not limited to:
• Custom designed Texas Tavern bikes by Hometown Bikes,
• Custom designed VBR bikes by Hometown Bikes,
• Black Dog Salvage custom items,
• Black Dog Salvage gift certificates and apparel,

• Kroger gift cards,
• Texas Tavern gift certificates and apparel,
• VIP passes to local and regional attractions for families of four.

Contest entries are being accepted through July 9. All winners will be notified through email.

About Virginia's Blue Ridge:

The Roanoke Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau is a not-for-profit destination marketing organization funded through local government jurisdictions as well as regional tourism partnerships. We work to provide information on accommodations, attractions, recreation, dining, and more in the Roanoke Valley for convention, meeting, and leisure travelers. Through partnerships with the local business community across numerous industries, our goal is to attract visitors to Virginia's Blue Ridge and ensure they have a wonderful experience while visiting.

Tourism is BIG Business and it shapes the image of the region. The latest economic impact figures indicate Virginia's Blue Ridge (including the Cities of Roanoke and Salem and the Counties of Roanoke, Botetourt and Franklin) reached $730,369,363 in total travel expenditures for 2012. Local tourism supported 7,236 jobs while state and local tourism-related tax collections were $52,412,801.