In a time when many Americans have less to spend on expensive vacations, a trip to a national park is a cheaper but still enjoyable alternative. In order to market the national parks, Nature Valley, a General Mills brand, created Trail View, a campaign to bring awareness to national parks by taking teams to the Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon in order to capture footage of each park. The footage will be posted online in the form of videos in February, along with information about the national parks visited. Fast Company calls the future web postings from the campaign a “virtual hiking expedition anyone can take.”
Nature Valley partnered with the agency McCann-Erickson to come up with Trail View. McCann worked on finding the right people to implement the campaign from March to June 2011, and teams went to national parks for 45 days this summer.
Matt Bisher, associate creative director at McCann, said that the campaign is more than entertainment. “We’re committing to an ongoing proposition,” Bisher said.
“Nature is something you have to get close to in order to be moved by it,” says Scott Baldwin, Senior Marketing Manager at Nature Valley. “It’s easy to just show a picture of nature, but people want to have deeper experiences.”
“This initiative lets [Nature Valley] stand for something,” says Leslie Sims, executive creative director at McCann. “They aren’t just pushing granola bars on hikers.”
Catherine Patterson, who stayed for the entire hike, said she was surprised by the small amount of tourists on the trails. “We anticipated having to avoid filming crowds, and blurring out logos when we did, but there was hardly anyone hiking at all some days.”
National parks are America’s best idea
“People both here and abroad know that our national parks are America’s best idea, even during an economic downturn,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said in 2010.
In 2009, Superintendent Martha Bogle of Shenandoah National Park in Virginia said that, although tourism to national parks increased during the current recession, people are spending less money at the parks. Less money spent at the national parks means less money to maintain the park, which makes campaigns like Trail View important. More tourists coming to the parks can potentially make up for the decreased amount spent in the parks’ gift shops.
The good news is that Yellowstone had over three million visitors for the third straight summer, according to the National Park Service (NPS). In the summer of 2009, Yellowstone had almost 3.3 million visitors, and over 3.6 million visitors in the summer of 2010. Maybe Trail View will help Yellowstone and the other parks featured in the campaign experience an all-time high in the number of visitors next summer.
Photo: Flickr user, Nature Valley Explorers