Sports & Entertainment Direct Wins Kampgrounds Business

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Sports & Entertainment Direct has been named direct marketing promotional agency by Kampgrounds of America Inc., a national franchise that manages more than 500 campgrounds in the United States and Canada.

Valued at $500,000, the KOA account was also pitched by Market Source, a promotional agency that is a rival of S&E Direct. There was no incumbent on the account, according to a senior executive at S&E Direct, Marietta, GA.

"The initial process is to help them create value-added programs for campers staying at KOA campgrounds," said Jonathan Agin, national sales manager at S&E Direct. "We're helping leverage KOA with other national consumer products."

Each year, there are nearly 200 million overnight campers in the United States. KOA franchise campgrounds account for 25 million overnight campers. Families camp in the spring and summer, while seniors in their recreational vehicles park at campgrounds in the fall and winter.

It is these campers whom S&E plans to reach with programs aimed at repeat visits.

The first customer retention effort planned is the KOA Welcome Bag. Running July through September, the program is designed to offer campground staff an opportunity to personally interact with and welcome campers right after they check in.

As part of this program, 500,000 bags will be filled with samples and product information provided by corporate sponsors keen to reach families that are active campers.

"We're helping leverage KOA with other national consumer products," Agin said. "We're trying to find other strategic partners to come in, those marketers that are interested in reaching this family, overnight camper lifestyle segment."

S&E Direct will seek corporate partners for sponsoring KOA special events such as pancake breakfasts, barbecue nights and other interactive promotions at KOA campgrounds.

"In a crux, we're just trying to build brand awareness and leverage that by working with other corporations," Agin said.

The KOA account is a one-year contract for S&E Direct, an agency that last year posted billings of $2 million. Other accounts handled by the agency include H.J. Heinz Co. for its 57 tomato sauce, ESPN Classic, White Willy, STP and CBS SportsLine.

S&E Direct's services include creative sampling and distribution programs, street marketing efforts, data gathering and managing booth spaces for clients.

KOA, Billings, MT, noticed S&E Direct while the agency was working on a Heinz project for RV parks.

"Yearly [KOA] does about two to three sample items, and it becomes very difficult for the staff at the campgrounds to do this manually," Agin said. "If you're in a sampling and cooperative bag type of situation, it's much easier and it also presents a lot better."

Agin hopes S&E Direct's efforts will build camper goodwill for KOA.

"An internal objective is to create greater customer service to campers," he said, "and promote as much of that personal atmosphere as you can. It's just that feeling of being welcomed that goes a long way."

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