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Happy Valley Adventure Bureau Previews New Tourism Promotion Campaign

by on January 29, 2020 8:15 PM


At a reception held Tuesday evening — fittingly on National Plan for Vacation Day — at the Centre County Visitors Center, the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau unveiled a series of new tourism marketing campaign components and materials. Part of the bureau’s rebranding efforts, the new campaign aims to set the Centre County area apart from regional destinations in what Fritz Smith, the bureau’s president and CEO, calls “a very, very competitive marketplace.”

In his opening remarks, Smith referred to the tourism and destination marketing industry’s chronic “sea of sameness.” One can only look at destination marketing photos from upstate New York, Michigan or the Poconos and immediately notice they seem relatively similar. In order for the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau (formerly the Central Pennsylvania Convention & Visitors Bureau) to “break out of the pack,” it partnered with marketing agency Allen & Gerritsen, working alongside director Lauren Nauss and principal Tim Reeves.

Nauss, a Penn State graduate with her own fond memories of Happy Valley, presented the campaign materials to those in attendance, including refreshed area guides and a series of videos and other digital components. New print guides have a storybook-esque look and feel. Nauss notes she and her team “worked with a custom illustrator to bring adventures you can have in Happy Valley to life,” taking a key from comic books to highlight the numerous adventures available to visitors. Rather than show photos of models posing in the area, the illustrated covers show silhouettes, so viewers can better imagine themselves enjoying the same adventures. 

The marketing videos are also a departure from what one might see coming from other tourism boards around the region. The videos take a fun, humorous and adventurous approach to the Happy Valley region, showing families that Centre County is a place to enjoy a fun, family-friendly getaway on a budget.

The videos depict a real family (child actor Molly Englehardt and her parents Fred and Bridgett Englehardt, New York natives who were brought in to experience Happy Valley for themselves), bored and in need of some fun. Their routines are hijacked by the entertaining Happy Valley Adventure Bureau agents Chipper and Friendly. Shots show the family enjoying some of Centre County’s most beloved sites, from Tussey Mountain to Penn’s Cave. 

HVAB President and CEO Fritz Smith, center, with HVAB “agents” Chipper and Friendly, and the Englehardt family – Fred, Bridget and Molly — at a preview event for the bureau's new tourism promotion campaign on Jan. 27, 2020. Photo provided.

The marketing campaign launches Feb. 3 with a focus on what Nauss called “key markets that are drivable, low-hanging fruit, people who already know or love Happy Valley but need a reason to come back other than the ‘big game.’” The campaign targets travelers in the Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Delaware regions, as well as Penn State alums in the New York City metro area. Videos will appear on sites such as YouTube and Hulu, with digital banners, paid social and native advertising appearing elsewhere. Billboards around the Harrisburg area are also planned.

HVAB released a short teaser video ahead of the campaign videos' launch on Feb. 3:

In addition to the marketing campaign, a public relations campaign is in the works as well. Allen & Gerritsen worked with the Harris Poll to survey Americans and found that 27% of workers leave a portion of their paid time off (PTO) on the table each year. Based on these findings, the PTGo initiative was created, encouraging families to take full advantage of their PTO. A contest allows individuals to nominate someone in dire need of some PTO to win a free trip to Happy Valley. Details of the contest will be unveiled next week in conjunction with the overall marketing campaign.

In addition to the night’s primary announcements, Smith also alluded to the bureau’s other projects, including supplementary publications to be offered alongside the normal visitor guides, a series of Happy Valley Fun Guides, originally produced by Affinity Connection, former owner of the online domain, as well as the bureau’s efforts to ensure the Happy Valley image encompasses not only State College, but all areas of Centre County.


Holly Riddle is a freelance food, lifestyle and entertainment writer. She can be reached at [email protected]
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