Photos: Gunn/Jerkens Marketing Communications

Newhall Land was searching for ways to jump start marketing for its 40-year-old Valencia master plan after several years of non-activity while its holding company, Landsource, worked through a controversial bankruptcy when its agency, Gunn/Jerkens Marketing Communications, decided to ask the community’s residents why they like living there.

“Literally every other person used the word 'awesome,'” remembered Marlee Lauffer, vice president of marketing and communications for Newhall. “We were all struck by it, how often it came up. So we started to refer to us as 'Awesometown.'”

Early in 2010 Valencia rolled out an advertising campaign using Awesometown on billboards and in print advertising.

“Just another day in Awesometown in Valencia,” the slogan said. Advertisements featured people doing “outrageously awesome things,” said Lauffer. There was a woman business owner in a suit carrying her yoga bag and briefcase. Another showed a man in a suit and tie wearing tennis shoes and carrying a golf bag on his shoulder.

“We did billboards, we did some bus advertising, and within a few weeks it just caught on virally,” said Lauffer. “People were out taking pictures of the billboards.

The campaign was also featured on the community’s Facebook and Twitter pages as well as its website. Quickly Valencia’s list of Internet fans grew from a couple of hundred to more than 6,700.

“And, because our campaign was a little bit of different. … We got tremendous earned media as well,” said Lauffer. The community was featured on several evening news shows and radio shows. “They were saying, ‘Wow this is something very, very different for conservative Valencia.'”

The nickname has become somewhat institutionalized. Local businesses are describing themselves as being located in Awesometown. The local Whole Foods even prints “Awesometown” on its receipts, Lauffer said.

Not everybody is a fan, though. “The awesometown campaign has generated a little bit of controversy,” Lauffer noted. “Some people absolutely love it; some people absolutely hate it and think it’s silly.”

Love or hate, it appears to be getting some results. It has generated new interest in the region from people who live in the greater Los Angles area and had forgotten about the community.  A recent event that brought 50 of the famous gourmet California food trucks to the development attracted a lot of out town visitors, said Lauffer.

The community’s builders, which include Lennar and, recently, KB Home, have reported improved traffic in the wake of the campaign and especially during the food truck event.

“The builders are reporting strong traffic and sales are occurring,” said Lauffer. “It’s hard to say exactly where the sales come from but Lennar and KB are very, very pleased. And the food truck event really produced some solid leads for them.”

Valencia is 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles and directly in the path of growth. There are already 20,000 homes in the community and 60,000 permanent full-time jobs, said Lauffer.

Valencia has a couple thousand more homesites to be built on, and Newhall Ranch, the next phase, which is planned to include 20,000 homes to be built out over a 20-year-period, is in the approval process.

Teresa Burney is a senior editor for BUILDER magazine.

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.