Very Supportive tourism officials like new Very Surry campaign

First Posted: 3/19/2009

PILOT MOUNTAIN After just a few tweaks, a local tourism group revealed its branding campaign to market the entire county to tourism officials yesterday in Pilot Mountain.
The Tourism Partnership of Surry County held a joint Tourism Development Authority meeting to unveil the new Very Surry campaign to members of all TDAs including Mount Airy, Dobson, Elkin and Pilot Mountain, whose members seemed to support it.
MadCat, a branding company, and CoyneBeahmShouse, a creative-marketing company, which collaborated to create the Very Surry campaign, presented it to the TDA members and explained the process of how they developed the concept of the campaign.
Let us tell you the story of Very Surry came to be, Melanie Barbee, a MadCat representative told a room of about 10 in town hall Thursday evening.
That story of the branding process includes several brainstorming sessions with the tourism partnership board, surveys and interviews with both visitors and county residents and leaders.
After discovering the physical assets, diversity and friendly nature of Surry County, MadCat and CoyneBeahmShouse representatives said they wanted to create something that maintained the authenticity of the area.
Hence, Very Surry was born.
We wanted to get something started that was big, bold and simple, said Pat Coyne, the chief innovation officer with CoyneBeahmShouse. We wanted to capture the whole idea of Surry County being a blend of southern splendid places.
Surry is a cool, blendable word its unique. he continued. Unaided, people will ask Very Surry, what is it? And the one thing about it is it makes people wonder and curious. I see it coming to life in vernacular. Thats very Surry. It (is a line) that spans age, activity and demographic.
The campaign consists of bold single iconic images which are distinctively Surry County such as camping, music, festivals and wineries. The images would be original art and authentic scenes of Surry County.
Each image would feature a number that would identify it as one of the many assets or southern pleasures Surry County has to offer visitors. One might read #6 and reference the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention. The slogan would read Very in a smaller font over Surry in a large signature followed by The Art And Soul Of The Yadkin Valley.
CoyneBeahmShouse also revealed posters which had generic images that would be used in promotional material related to the Very Surry campaign, which would be replaced by authentic artwork.
The idea is that the campaign could tie everything in Surry County all together, said Valerie Oberle, the chair of the Tourism Partnership of Surry County. The ideas are endless.
MadCat representative Melanie Barbee agreed.
Its a big platform, but we would be able to individualize it when necessary, she said.
Ed Shelton, a member of the board, said he thought the campaign would be positive for Surry County residents.
It will help to give people in Surry County a little more pride, he said, adding that the board and the companies should test the campaign in the public.
But the meeting wasnt without acknowledgment of some negative comments made about the Very Surry campaign.
Im not sure very is necessary, said a local Pilot Mountain merchant, who said she has overheard negative reception to Very Surry. Ive heard people say Very Surry is Very Sorry. We dont want that.
Barbee said while she understood the merchants perspective, she added the slogan along with the line The Art and Soul of Yadkin Valley is a unit, and that negative feedback is to be expected.
Coyne of CoyneBeahmShouse mirrored Barbees comments and added that all feedback is welcomed.
We want criticism, he said. I rather people like it or dont want it. If they think its just OK, they wont remember it.
Its a canvas we want consumers to help us paint, he added.
Scott Rhodes, another MadCat representative, said the board should handle negative comments carefully.
Its dangerous to respond to negative comments made about (the campaign) from those without knowledge of its background, he said.
But we dont want to completely ignore negative comments, Barbee chimed in.
Oberle, the tourism partnership chair, echoed the company representatives.
Its going to take some education, she said. With any campaign, there needs to be adjustments, we just have to give it time.
At the next meeting on April 7 in Elkin, Oberle said the board will brainstorm a list of different southern pleasures, or activities or events Surry County has to offer, which would be numbered in the promotional material. She also said the board will be working on reaching out to the community and getting its input on the campaign.
We want to keep moving and not miss any advertising opportunities, she said.
Contact Erin C. Perkins at [email protected] or 719-1952.

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