National Park Campaign Targets Diverse Millennials
More than 273 million people visited national parks in 2013, although 75 percent of them were more than 40 years old and disproportionately Caucasian, a statistic out of sync with America’s diverse population. For its 100th anniversary, the National Park Service launched Find Your Park, a two-year, multi-city tour designed to stimulate the next generation of park visitors and supporters among the younger, more diverse millennial generation. In 2015 the tour brought 15 million additional visitors to national park sites, a boost directly attributable to the campaign. That’s a lot of fresh air.
The ongoing tour, which launched in New York City’s Times Square, brings national parks into the cultural conversation online, in the media and through social influence. Corporate sponsors, including American Express, Budweiser and Subaru, help fund the cost and amplify Find Your Park messaging and values. The events demonstrate the breadth of the National Park Service, solicit personal park stories and aim to change people’s notion of what a park is and how they connect to it. But the tour also benefits those who already know and love the national parks by bringing the parks to their own backyards and offering a unique, immersive experience.
Find Your Park launched with a takeover of the Times Square billboards during rush hour, then moved to North Flatiron Plaza in the heart of New York City. Secretary of the Department of the Interior Sally Jewel and National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis kicked off the campaign, speaking to the crowd of media, tourists, New Yorkers, park rangers and partners about the importance of the centennial. Centennial celebrity ambassador Bella Thorne bolstered the excitement, retelling her personal national park experience to the audience.
Next, an interactive footprint opened to the public. Crowds could spin the Find Your Park Machine, a massive digital screen that rotated using audio, visual and geo-location elements that revealed the location and distance of all 400 national parks. Virtual View kiosks connected users to National Park Service employees, influencers and park-goers at national parks across the country. The experience then moved on to high-traffic locations in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., corporate sponsorship events such as REI’s launch day after-party in its New York City store and Budweiser’s Made in America Monument Series, an extension of its music platform, all of which further extended the Find Your Park campaign.
The effect of the natural experience in a park is hard to quantify, but the experiential tactics of the Find Your Park campaign are not. The program resulted in 7,800 hand-to-hand interactions, roughly 23,000 walk-by impressions at events and more than 3,000 user-generated photos and videos during its first three weeks.
A bear of a campaign so far. We said it.