Monday, April 06, 2015

U.S. National Parks Embrace Digital Media to Reach Millennials

The National Park Service launched its largest-ever marketing campaign in preparation for the agency’s centennial celebrations in 2016. The goal of the campaign, several years in the making, is to raise awareness of the park system among millennials. In addition to the website,, with its content on the parks and trip-planning tools, the campaign will include contests, social media engagement and influencer relationships. The parks drew 292 million visitors, who enteried at least one national park in 2014, but there are misperceptions that they’re family destinations only or all located in the West.  “We get a lot of visitors but the demographic of that visitation is not representative of the country,” says National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis. “We want to see not just an increase in visitation but a more diverse population that is using the national parks.” When the National Park Service hired ad agency Grey in 2010, they required a year’s worth of qualitative and quantitative research to gauge the public’s understanding and awareness of the organization. Jarvis says the organization will replicate the same research in 2017 at the end of the campaign to determine its ultimate success. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis kicked off the campaign in New York City where they introduced Find Your Park Virtual View Kiosks in which people can virtually experience parks from around the country.  New creatives and events will be rolled out throughout the year and then again in 2016. There will be a combination of Instameets, consumer contests, and local activities hosted by individual parks. The National Park Service also hopes to foster a personal connection to the future of the parks through contribution programs where the public can donate to a certain project and volunteering opportunities. The multi-million dollar campaign is being paid for exclusively through sponsor partnerships with big name brands like American Express, REI, Subaru and Budweiser. Partnerships will also play a major role in spreading awareness of the campaign. For example, there will be a feature on national parks in every 2016 issue of National Geographic...more

The Park Service gets around $2.6 billion to manage 84 million acres at 407 different sites, and includes Parks, Monuments and Wilderness areas.  Congress, the administration and various lobbying groups keep telling us there is a huge demand for these type areas.  If that be the case, why hire a private marketing firm to conduct a seven-year, multimillion dollar campaign to raise "awareness" of these areas?

Sorry, but this is all about current and future funding, i.e., money.  First, they want to use the 100 year anniversary to obtain a substantial increase in their annual operating budget.  Second, the dirty little secret is that youth and minorities make fewer visits to these areas than their national population would indicate, thereby becoming a threat to future funding.  The future of the agency and the crony capitalists in the outdoor industry is at stake. 

Jarvis says they want a "personal connection to the public."  They do. To your wallet and to Congressional coffers.  

Just wanted you to be "aware" of that too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Guess there has to be an "NPS app" to get people's attention. And yes, it is all about funding.