CMD Out To Bring Campers Into Sites

KOA’s ubiquitous signs are a familiar sight to those on road trips, but too few travelers know about all of the amenities offered inside the parks to pull in, said an executive with KOA’s new agency.

“Everyone’s heard of KOA, but that’s sometimes where it stops,” said Pete Charlton, vp and executive creative director of CMD in Portland, Ore., which won KOA’s advertising business last week. “Our challenge is to bring meat to the awareness numbers.”

The independent bested three other finalists for KOA (which stands for Kampgrounds of America): the incumbent, independent Wendt in Great Falls, Mont.; independent Mercury in Bozeman, Mont.; and Interpublic Group’s Foote Cone & Belding in Seattle. CMD’s pitch focused on the value KOA’s employees and amenities bring to the camping experience, Charlton said.

The client spent $400,000 last year on ads, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR. The bulk of KOA’s spend was on outdoor, said vp of marketing Ken Stellmacher, adding that future ad spending would increase well into the seven figures.

With 470 campgrounds in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Japan, KOA is the world’s largest campground-franchise operation. The company, via CMD, wants to position itself as “more of a destination than just an overnighter park,” Stellmacher said.

To that end, KOA has encouraged its franchisees to add on-site cafes, wireless Internet access and concierge service, he said. CMD will develop an integrated campaign including print, Internet and TV for the 2005 camping season, said Charlton.

KOA, whose 2003 sales were up 5 percent to $37 million, according to Hoover’s Online, also hopes to benefit from an increasingly healthy recreational-vehicle market. RVs make up 80 percent of its visitors, Stellmacher said.