Over the course of the three years I lived in the Pacific Northwest, I developed a love for the outdoors that overpowered my natural inclination toward laziness, my aversion to rain, even my fear of spiders. This was a natural side effect of living in close proximity to places so fit for exploring. It made sense. What didn’t make sense to me was my sudden obsession with road-tripping through Utah. To this day, everywhere I look, friends and strangers are posting gorgeous photos of Utah’s natural wonders. People are calling it the most beautiful place in the U.S., and I can see why. But until recently I wondered, Why was I only just now making this #1 on my bucket list?
Chalk It Up to Successful Advertising
It turns out creative agency Struck likely had something to do with it. Struck, a digital-forward creative agency that builds and promotes brands through a philosophy of making things greater than they are, rolled out a successful advertising campaign for the Utah Office of Tourism that led to a huge boost for the state’s national parks. Nearly 375,000 Utah trips between March 2013 and December 2013 are attributable to the advertising created by Struck, and both the Utah Office of Tourism and Struck received top honors from the National Council of State Tourism Directors’ (NCSTD) Mercury Awards.
I’ve yet to make it to Utah, but I was beyond excited to talk with Alexandra Fuller, creative director at Struck, about the firm’s campaign. Read on for some insight into this powerful campaign.
So how long did the project take, start to finish?
We conceived the project over the course of six weeks in the heart of summer, pitched it at the end of summer, shot during 10 days in early October, then built the rest of the campaign during the winter. And finally, launched it the following spring.
This campaign has had an incredibly strong impact on so many. How did you come up with the concept?
We started with the strategic insight that instead of trying to offer all things to all people (Mountains! Redrock! Dining! Shopping! Luxury! Culture!), it would be far more effective for Utah to stake its claim on something ownable. What exactly is Utah’s special sauce? Well, it’s the only state with five iconic national parks within close enough proximity to be explored within a single epic road trip. So there’s that.
The national parks aren’t new, but what was new was the idea to brand them as a single entity, a bucket-list topper on par with Machu Picchu, the Grand Canyon and the Great Wall of China.
What was the biggest challenge you faced?
It would have been easy and natural to focus on the features and amenities that a visitor can find in Utah’s five national parks. There are a whole lot of them, and they’re pretty damn impressive. But features and amenities—logic, that is—never made anybody’s jaw drop or made their skin tingle. Our challenge was to convey what it feels like to experience The Mighty 5 … and then to package that emotional experience into something tangible. That was by far the aspect which we felt most strongly about from the beginning, and which was the most difficult to achieve.
What was your favorite part of the project, or favorite moment while working on it?
Each of us surely has a different answer, but for me, there was an evening about two-thirds of the way through our long shoot that stands out. The cast and crew were just dialed by then, and we had hiked all day together through this gorgeous river canyon in Capitol Reef National Park, wading through narrow slots and jumping off waterfalls. That evening we filmed the Baumann family (the family that appears in the video is a real family from Salt Lake—all four of them are totally awesome) looking out at the sunset. They were all teasing each other and teasing us, then there was this quiet moment of wonder that settled over all of us. Zoe, the daughter, leaned her head on her dad’s shoulder and said “I’m so glad we’re here; we are all so lucky.”
So you all got to go to Utah to experience The Mighty 5 firsthand?
Yes! Lucky indeed. Struck is a creative agency wholly based in the West, so we have offices in Portland, Salt Lake City and LA. Most of us who worked on the campaign were based in Salt Lake, but some people had never visited all five of our parks before. Whether it’s your first trip or your 100th, you’ll still get goosebumps every time.
The creative team at Struck behind the campaign:
Account Director: Jeremy Chase
Executive Creative Director: Steve Driggs
Creative Director/Copywriter: Alexandra Fuller
Art Director: Phil Smallwood
Editor/Copywriter: Garrett Martin
Producer: Stevie Meier
Account Manager: Kelly McClelland
Video Director: Ryan Gibb
Video Production Company: St. Cloud
Strategist: Jennifer Hughes
Media Partner: Love Communications