The US Forest Service debuted its nationwide Discover the Forest campaign on June 13, the second annual National Get Outdoors Day through a partnership with the Ad Council and Euro RSCG. The digital, print, radio, TV, and out of home ads that comprise the campaign aim to get children and tweens outdoors.
“Tweens are at an age where they can have an influence on how they spend their own time as well as how the family spends its time together,” said Tiajuana Cochnauer, who works in Conservation
Education at the US Forest Service, of the target audience. “In the long run, after helping students and children learn more about conservation and how the ecosystem works together, the
idea is that when they become decision makers and voters they will have a good base of information and knowledge.”
“The Forest Service was interested in getting younger people to become greater stewards of the land,” added Phil Silvestri, executive creative director and managing director for Euro RSCG Tonic. “We feel that the way you become a steward of the land for the future is that you love it, and you’re not going to love the land or nature if you don’t experience it.”
The goal of the campaign is to encourage kids and their families to experience the forest firsthand, whether through biking, camping or just playing outside. Over the long term, the Forest Service hopes the campaign will establish in children a lifelong love of nature and a sense of environmental stewardship.
The campaign is also expected to benefit childrens’ physical and mental health by encouraging physical activity and imaginative play. In fact, it was Euro RSCG’s Tonic group, which is focused on health and wellness, that was responsible for many pieces of the campaign.
Euro RSCG developed the campaign pro bono, working with the tagline, “where the other you lives.” The centerpiece of the campaign, DiscoverTheForest.org, offers information on conservation and ideas for outdoor activities. It also features an interactive tool from Nature Find and Google Maps that allows users to search for the closest forests and parks. An integrated social media program is also being used to promote the campaign and its message where tweens “live” on the Web.
“We would like to have the public and students and children know more about how we are supporting their activities to get them into forests, and one way is to use the technology they are very comfortable with,” said Cochnauer of the campaign’s digital angle.
Silvestri defended the use of digital tools in a pro-outdoors campaign.
“I love digital, and I think it is really important in this because it is really functional and will help them navigate their way to experiencing the forest,” he said.
The campaign will run for several months, adding new elements throughout the year — like a national photo and art contest in September — to keep the public engaged with its message. In the September contest, children will be invited to submit photos and artwork that show how they are interacting with the outdoors to find “the other you.”
The Forest Service and Ad Council will be watching visitor levels for state parks and other outdoor destinations to gauge the success of the campaign. Visitors to the Web site will also be counted. The agencies have been working togeter for more than 60 years, including on the the long-running Smokey the Bear efforts.