Digital efforts blaze trail for parks preservation

Nature Valley and AOR Cone Communications kicked off the company's annual Preserve the Parks program by launching "Trail View."

Client: Nature Valley (Minneapolis, MN)
Agency: Cone Communications (Boston, MA)
Campaign: Preserve the Parks / Nature Valley Trail View
Duration: March 8, 2012 – April 29, 2012
Budget: $300,000

Nature Valley and AOR Cone Communications kicked off the company's annual Preserve the Parks program this year by launching “Trail View,” a digital platform that gives consumers panoramic views of more than 300 miles of trails in the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Great Smoky Mountains national parks. It's housed on NatureValleyTrailView.com.

“This year we needed something new to get attention and help people get involved,” explains Scott Baldwin, Nature Valley's marketing associate director. “So we put an 11-lense camera on master cameraman Brandon McClain who hiked the trails with a production team. The outcome is people can explore the trails virtually.”

Strategy
Advertising AOR McCann Erickson led Trail View platform development, and the PR team debuted it at SXSW (March 9 to 18), just ahead of National Park Week (April 21 to 29). Media relations and social media outreach drove broader awareness. 

“Trail View has a great tech aspect, and we reached a group of consumers at SXSW who are highly active online,” says Heather Breslau, VP in Cone's brand marketing group. “It was a great audience to help spread the word.” 

Nature Valley donated $300,000 to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) and will donate an additional $1 (up to $200,000) when consumers enter UPCs from Nature Valley product packages on PreserveTheParks.com through December 31. One dollar was also donated for every Trail View Facebook “like” during National Park Week.

Tactics
NatureValleyTrailView.com went live March 7. The New York Times got an exclusive to break the news. 

Broad media and blogger outreach was ongoing. A short “making of” video helped pique interest ahead of launch.

Trail View officially launched at an invitation-only SXSW party hosted March 11 by Mashable. As a sponsor, Nature Valley had a large branded area where guests interacted with Trail View on large-screen TVs, iPads, and computers. Brand ambassadors, including McClain, introduced the platform and conducted media interviews. 

Both Mashable and Nature Valley promoted Trail View on all owned online properties.

Additional NatureValleyTrailView.com content includes topography maps, the “making of” video, and other extras.

Results
To date, consumer actions have generated more than $50,000 in donations to NPCA.

“Participation is higher than in past years, and we're getting higher levels of consumer interaction,” Baldwin says. “We added 16,000 Facebook fans during National Park Week alone - more than double average weekly gain of 7,300.”

Visits to NatureValleyTrailView.com in March surpassed 75,000, (the goal was 60,000).

One hundred forty stories ran in outlets including Popular Mechanics, Backpacker, MSNBC.com, and Engadget.

Impressions across all channels topped 38 million. 

Future
Nature Valley is considering ways to expand its park preservation commitment. The PR team is planning next steps for extending Trail View.

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