Almost a year and a half after local elected officials called for changes to the area tourism bureau, the organization has formally announced its new advertising campaign and logo.
The Charlottesville Albemarle Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted a brand launch party Wednesday night to announce its “More to C’” campaign.
“When we say that there’s ‘More to C’,’ there’s more to see than wines, weddings and what you saw on the news,” said Glen Fellman with Clean, the advertising agency that designed the campaign, at the event.
The campaign is designed to promote the food, wine, music and history of Charlottesville and Albemarle County, and will appear locally, as well as in the Washington, D.C., area and in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill in North Carolina.
Interim Director Adam Healey said the tourism industry employs more than 6,000 people in the area.
“Tourism is a net positive for our community,” he said. “When tourism is successful, it means that our tax burden goes down and the quality of life of our citizens goes up.”
Launch attendees had an opportunity to win raffle prizes and received “swag bags” with branded merchandise.
The current makeup of the tourism board first took shape last year after Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors wanted elected officials to have more oversight of the organization and the opportunity to sit on its board.
The prior CACVB board in 2017 selected Clean, which is based in Raleigh, North Carolina, to handle its marketing. The tourism bureau had budgeted $324,000 to pay for Clean’s services in fiscal year 2018 and spent between $15,000 and $30,000 a month in the current fiscal year.
The CACVB had about $350,000 for advertising, and it has already started advertising locally and online.
A draft advertising campaign was presented to the board in the fall, which utilized a play on the word “C’ville” to create the words “C’villeization,” “C’villeized,” “C’villeian” and “C’villeity.”
Clean organized local in-person focus groups and an online survey of 25- to 44-year-olds in the Washington, D.C., area who saw both the “More to C’” and “C’villeization” campaigns. “More to C’” outperformed “C’villeization.”
Healey said the funds for the branch launch party came out of the CACVB’s marketing budget, and the organization also received sponsorships from the Monticello Wine Trail and Starr Hill Brewery.
“We’re way under budget this year because we are understaffed,” he said.
This was the first event the CACVB has held in seven years, Healey said.
“The last time we did it was when we launched the previous brand,” he said.
Healey, who was appointed to the interim position last summer, has consistently reiterated to the board that the bureau needs additional funds for advertising.
Currently, the tourism bureau receives a contribution from both Charlottesville and Albemarle equal to 30% of actual revenues collected from the first 5 percentage points of the transient occupancy tax rate.
In the current fiscal year, the CACVB received a total of about $1.88 million — $839,000 from the county and $1 million from the city. The bureau is set to receive about $1.96 million in the coming fiscal year.
“We’re dramatically underfunded compared to what we want to accomplish, compared to the quality of this destination and what we have to offer,” Healey told the board at its meeting in April.
At the end of the April meeting, the CACVB board voted to extend its contract with Clean for another year — predicated on getting a report on all of the work that has been completed thus far — and to extend Healey’s contract until June 30.
The CACVB is scheduled to meet Thursday afternoon in closed session to discuss candidates for empty seats on the board, candidates for the executive director position and employee performance reviews.