In Centennial Campaign, Grey N.Y. Offers New View of America’s National Parks

It's not just about geysers and canyons

It's not America's national parks as you picture them: In a new campaign, Grey New York showcases sites like the Statue of Liberty, Alcatraz and Little Rock Central High School. As the National Park Service prepares to celebrate its centennial in 2016, Grey is using the milestone event to reacquaint Americans with the historical gems in their own backyards.  

"We want to get younger, more multicultural and attract more urban visitors, the next generation to be interested in the historic places, monuments and parks in this country," said Grey N.Y. group creative director Joe Mongognia, who developed the campaign with agency group creative director Sean Crane. "It's about letting people know that there's more than just trees out West to explore." 

To do that, the campaign urges visitors to think beyond postcard landscapes when considering the country's 407 national parks. Visitors are encouraged to see Alcatraz in print ads that use abandoned jail block space with the reminder, "Parks aren't just about the history of geology. They're also about the history of confinement." For the iconic civil rights location Little Rock High School, the ads urge visitors to remember "parks aren't just about respecting nature's diversity. They're also about respect for all people."

The "Find Your Park" pitch has been 18 months in the making since Grey won the business of the National Park Foundation, the philanthropic partner of the National Park Service, in 2013. It will roll out in three phases with varying emphasis on the Park Service, the foundation and the 2016 centennial celebration.

Web videos on feature scientist Bill Nye, TV and film actors Bella Thorne, Roselyn Sanchez and Terrence J., along with singer and LGBT advocate Mary Lambert. The personalities tell their own favorite national park stories against the backdrop of those locations.

But to Grey's Mongognia, the tenor of the campaign may be best defined by the 60-second video below, produced by the agency. "It's got very fast visuals and pacing," he said. "It's very modern, especially for a government agency."