New marketing slogan marks shift in profile for WW Valley

'Share Walla Walla' takes over for 'Walla Walla, Surprise Surprise' as the city's new tagline.

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WALLA WALLA -- As a destination for leisure travelers, Walla Walla may no longer be much of a surprise to visitors. So when it comes to branding the community, tourism officials have adopted a new slogan they think best reflects what happens here.

"Share Walla Walla" was announced Monday as the community's tagline. It will be part of a new integrated marketing campaign set for launch in April, said Michele Rennie, Tourism Walla Walla board member and Marketing Committee chairwoman.

The new brand was created by DVA Advertising and Public Relations, the Bend, Ore., firm hired to promote the community and build on its already thriving tourism industry, as well as its success in 2011 named by Rand McNally and USA Today as "America's Friendliest Small Town."

"Share Walla Walla" succeeds "Walla Walla, Surprise Surprise" as the marketing tagline for the Valley. The latter was developed by Seattle-based Gibson Media and had been used over the last six years.

Tourism Walla Walla changed marketing firms last October. The new direction, including the brand change, signifies the next step in the Valley's evolution as a national leisure travel destination, according to the announcement. The new tagline takes ownership of the numerous facets of sharing a travel destination, officials said.

Rennie said its meaning is two-fold. One one hand it represents the fact that local residents share their community with visitors. At the same time, it also reflects what happens when visitors come and "share everything from a bottle of wine to a lasting memory."

She said the idea was rooted in the branding statement created by DVA as it explored the community, its offerings and its goals for tourism. Three other ideas were presented, but "Share Walla Walla" was the clear winner, Rennie said.

"We had moved past 'surprise surprise.' We shouldn't be a surprise to anyone anymore," she said. "But we are a place for people to share -- a bottle of wine, a meal, a laugh..."

In a prepared statement Monday, DVA Creative Director Gary Fulkerson said the tagline reflects a unifying quality of the people who live here.

"There are many reasons why Walla Walla was named America's Friendliest Small Town, and one of the biggest is the welcoming and sharing nature of its residents," Fulkerson said. "When you have something great, something you take pride in, the tendency is to want to share it with others and that's exactly the thinking behind 'Share Walla Walla.'"

The print campaign will include a collage of photos that projects a lifestyle of visitors on their trips to Walla Walla. It will include "powerful colors" while the headline, copy and tagline encourage the audience to share the community.

During Tourism Walla Walla's annual meeting in January, tourism officials said nearly $300,000 has been budgeted for advertising, including from Tourism Walla Walla, the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, Powerhouse Theatre and other organizations whose events will be promoted. DVA will also target visitors through web, social media and direct marketing. Its campaign will include print, digital, outdoor, web-based and other advertising mechanisms. Rennie said inclusion in a special section of The Seattle Times this weekend will mark the tagline's unveiling to the greater region.

Vicki Hillhouse can be reached at vickihillhouse@wwub.com or 526-8321.

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