UPPER MERION — In much the same way that General Motors paid homage to the ’63 Corvette with its 2014 makeover of America’s sports car, Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau turned to the 50-year-old classic to embody its illustrious past and help fire all cylinders on the road to the future.
The car that many consider to be the most legendary ’Vette of all time made a special appearance recently, along with its owner, Hank Brusca, at a gathering marking the tourism agency’s 50th anniversary.
“We thought it was kind of cool to symbolize where we were then and what was going on in 1963 with a video,” said Bill Fitzgerald, who took over in April as VFCVB president, a role held by Paul Decker for 20 years.
The sentimental look back featured the modest beginnings of The Plaza at King of Prussia, which, like the visiting red Corvette Stingray and VFCVB was born in 1963, recalled what Montgomery County looked like over the years.
But there was a lot more at stake at the luncheon attended by most of the bureau’s 330 members than nostalgia, Fitzgerald said.
“We used the theme to elevate the idea of the new direction and what the future looks like and what people can expect in the next 50 years. We know history is important to people. When you think of Valley Forge you think of our history, but we want to take it way beyond more than just history and promote the arts and culture and the great restaurants and chefs in Montgomery County.”
The occasion provided the ideal venue for launching the bureau’s captivating new video — which can be viewed at www.valleyforge.org — and setting the stage for an ad campaign that will premiere next spring.
“We definitely used it as a launching pad into our future,” said Fitzgerald, a Jenkintown native. “It’s been 50 successful years and now there’s a new direction for the bureau. Our new video reflects the Valley Forge area and Montgomery County with a new contemporary feel for what visitors can expect when they come in and spend the night in Montgomery County.”
The re-branding concept will embrace all that the county has to offer, Fitzgerald allowed.
“We’re called the Valley Forge Convention and Visitors Bureau so sometimes that throws people a curve ball, as if we’re only marketing and selling Valley Forge. But that’s not the case. Our role is to sell the entire county. We’ve been around 50 years and folks sometimes still get a little confused about our role and responsibility and all we do for the entire county. So often I come across folks that don’t know who we are and what we do, so it’s important that they understand what we can do. We want all people in the county to feel they have a voice.”
With the majority of the county’s 74 hotels stretching from Plymouth Meeting to King of Prussia, “it’s true that King of Prussia is kind of where our core business is,” Fitzgerald said. “But our message now is about inspiring the locals and making sure we’re capturing all of Montgomery County, and ensuring that all corners of the county are feeling the love and get the attention and that we market and sell the entire county. If you go around the county, you can certainly see how diverse it is, and all the walkable Main Streets we have in Ambler, Skippack, Wayne and Narberth. There are many hidden gems in Montgomery County that a lot of people don’t know about.”
The bureau’s efforts to sell the virtues of the area are more far-reaching than many may realize, Fitzgerald pointed out.
“We’re not just locally based; we’re constantly targeting national and international markets. So we’re pretty serious about what we can do to attract visitation, not only locally here in the seven counties region, but also nationally and internationally.”
Follow Gary Puleo on Twitter @Mustangman48.
Information from the Times Herald, www.timesherald.com