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Trailhead Direct


IT’S NO SECRET THAT DENIZENS OF THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST LOVE THE OUTDOORS. Time spent amid our region’s natural beauty brings many benefits — health and wellness, happiness and the opportunity to spend quality time with family, friends and our pets.

However, the outdoors are not enjoyed or even accessible to all communities in the northwest.

Traveling to and parking at trailheads can often be challenging as popular destinations are swarmed with cars. Adventure gear can be expensive. The outdoor industry has historically been marketed as white with a slant toward male. Sometimes interurban audiences, especially minority audiences, get left behind.

Working with King County Metro and King County Parks, DH sought to promote Trailhead Direct, an innovative public-private shuttle program designed to make the outdoors more accessible. Instead of everyone needing to drive to the starting spot individually, Trailhead Direct shuttles them there. When done, hikers can take a shuttle back to where they started. No car required.

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Print ad in Spanish publication La Raza del Noroeste.

As outdoors enthusiasts ourselves, we couldn’t wait to work on the 2018 Trailhead Direct campaign. We started where we always do: with research. We analyzed target audiences including low-income and ethnic populations, looked at trends, and became really familiar Washington hiking trails. Next, we developed a set of strategies and tactics to reach each audience group.

Our approach used social marketing strategies to change behavior around accessing trailheads, and hyper-targeting communities with different motivations for getting outside. One of our focus demographics was with the Hispanic LatinX audience.

Understanding this community from heavy research, we developed a campaign that reflected strong community values: being together with family. Our creative focused more on highly-relatable benefits that come from low-key social and family time on trails and in the parks rather than the rigors of mastering a grueling hike to the top of Mailbox Peak (that would appeal more to experienced hikers). Additionally, the campaign emphasized transcreation over translation and introduced bilingual pieces to appeal to bicultural families.

We wanted to meet audiences where they are, and show them ways they already enjoy the outdoors, and encourage them to take it one step further with Trailhead Direct.

The campaign required development of a strategic plan and a host of creative assets including radio interviews, print collateral, digital ads and out-of-home media on King County environmental displays. Take a look at the portfolio of work below:

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The campaign increased access and ridership to our region’s natural splendor, while also reducing traffic and environmental degradation at trailheads. It grew awareness with the target Hispanic LatinX audience and resulted in media coverage in La Raza Del Noreste and Hispanic radio. With a focus on targeted social marketing, King County Metro and King County Parks were able to reach special audiences in culturally appropriate and meaningful ways.

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