Next stop: The great outdoors

For King County Metro

Messaging about the great outdoors is often designed for one audience only, with one set of benefits. To boost ridership and access, our campaign highlighted benefits unique to underserved populations.


  • Creative strategy
  • Media placement & purchase
  • Out-of-home (OOH) & environmental marketing

The challenge

Residents of the Pacific Northwest love the outdoors, but access is easier for some communities than for others. 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 through special transit routes.

Marketing included transit-station takeovers in Seattle, along with environmental signage at SeaTac International Airport.

The strategy

We started where we always do: with research. We analyzed target audiences including low-income and ethnic populations, looked at trends, and became with 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.

What we did

Our campaign hypertargeted various communities with messaging and tactics that spoke to people’s various motivations for getting outside. One of our focus demographics was Hispanic and Latinx audience, whom we decided to reach with creative that focused on the benefits of low-key social and family time on trails and in the parks rather than on the rigors of a hike to the top of Mailbox Peak (which would appeal more to experienced hikers). Additionally, the campaign emphasized transcreation over translation and employed bilingual pieces to appeal to bicultural families.

Ads ran in Spanish-language publications.


The campaign increased access and Trailhead Direct ridership, while also reducing traffic and environmental degradation at trailheads. It raised awareness with the target Hispanic-Latinx audience and resulted in media coverage in La Raza Del Noreste and on 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.