Virginia: What is it for?

Ace: When did Forbes become a hippie love-rag? I was counting my money the other day when my Blackberry updated its RSS feed, and what do I see? “Forbes.com: Virginia Is For Lovers.” I am a joyless shut-in, and this is news to me. What is Forbes blathering about, and should I consider moving?—Rick Cleuse

In the spirit of Mark 10:31, Ace will answer your questions in reverse order, Rick. Here goes:

3. You absolutely should consider moving. Drag yourself out of the leather armchair you don’t let anyone else use, shake off those cobwebs and do some burpees. That’s how Ace gets blood flowing to his extremities.

2. Forbes is blathering about Virginia’s official state slogan, which Forbes loves so much that it wants to marry it.

“Virginia Is For Lovers” has been vernacular currency since its inception in 1969, when the Virginia State Travel Service launched a campaign to attract young talent. Hey Rick, you know what’s easier said than done? Luring America’s boomer youth away from their West Coast sex hovels to a commonwealth that, when you parse its name, suggests “land of virgins.” That’s why the slogan works: to our post-modern ears, it sounds sly and self-aware. It’s the catchphrase equivalent of a Quaker teen telling us, with a knowing wink, that her ankle-length gown conceals a pair of exquisite thighs.

Feeling those burpees yet, Rick?

But it was never the commonwealth’s intention to sell us sex. When Richmond advertising firm Martin & Woltz Inc. devised the original tagline, “Virginia is for history lovers,” they found it to be too narrow a draw. Although the initial concept was kind of clever—additional ads would have targeted beach lovers, mountain lovers and, who knows, maybe lovers of Civil War reenactments—the agency decided to drop the modifier, making Virginia a land for all lovers. Except gay lovers. Zing.

Forty years later, Forbes.com ranked the slogan tenth on its recent “10 Best Travel Campaigns” feature. Which brings me to your first question, Rick:

1. Most people would have you believe that Forbes officially became a hippie love-rag when Bono bought an interest in its parent company in 2006. In Ace’s opinion, though, the venture capital scene hasn’t been the same since Richard Branson turned George Soros onto The Polyphonic Spree.

You can ask Ace yourself. Intrepid investigative reporter Ace Atkins has been chasing readers’ leads for 20 years. If you have a question for Ace, e-mail it to ace@c-ville.com.

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