Camp Jeep 2002
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

Camp Jeep 2002

Camp Jeep 2002 was an exclusive three-day gathering for Jeep owners, and the largest event of its kind. It was the most significant media opportunity for the Jeep division of DaimlerChrysler Corporation in 2002.

Paul Holmes

Camp Jeep 2002 was an exclusive three-day gathering for Jeep owners, and the largest event of its kind. It was the most significant media opportunity for the Jeep division of DaimlerChrysler Corporation in 2002. During the course of the three-day event, owners/lessees and their families, as well as the media, had opportunities to experience Jeep vehicles’ off-road capabilities, talk with Jeep engineers and designers, participate in outdoor lifestyle activities and enjoy musical entertainment.
The team of DaimlerChrysler Corporation (DCX), Caponigro Public Relations Inc. (CPR) and BBDO-Detroit (BBDO) implemented the program designed to create or increase owner loyalty, increase brand awareness in the United States and generate positive media coverage on the event. Camp Jeep 2002, held July 25-27 near the Ozark Mountains in Branson, Mo., attracted more than 10,000 people driving more than 2,000 Jeep vehicles from more than 45 states.
 Jeep owners and members of the media traveled from as far away as Canada, Mexico and Germany to attend the event. A post-event survey of Camp Jeep 2002 attendees indicated that 95 percent of respondents would recommend the Camp Jeep event to friends, 98 percent would recommend a Jeep vehicle to friends/family, and 90 percent plan to purchase more Jeep vehicles in the future.
The Camp Jeep 2002 team faced three challenges in implementing the program: After September 11, it was anticipated that consumers would have greater concerns about traveling to Camp Jeep 2002 so the selection of the event location would be critical to its success; since this would be the eighth year of the event, it would be important to stage activities that would entice previous attendees to return and would draw first-time attendees to the event, and be “pitchable” to national media to maximize coverage; and the perception of media (and some Jeep owners) that the corporate-sponsored event would be packed with over-eager salespeople ready to pounce on attendees would have to be negated, so the true family-friendly, fun, educational nature of the event could take front and center in media coverage.
The Camp Jeep 2002 team had the benefit of extensive knowledge and research from the past seven consecutive Camp Jeep events in determining what content and elements were needed to attract owners and interest local and national media. Market research used to create Jeep marketing and advertising programs helped to pinpoint attendee demographics, psychographics and preferred lifestyle activities and trends. The Camp Jeep 2002 team met regularly during the eight months prior to the event to determine what strategies and tactics would be most effective.
With that in mind, five factors were identified as key enablers for attracting the desired audience and creating a highly successful event: reasonable cost to attend – $ 295 per vehicle for three days of activities; centralized location; variety of lifestyle and outdoor activities; type of musical entertainment; and a “no sales pressure” environment.
The Camp Jeep 2002 team created an effective plan that utilized regional advertising, direct marketing and media outreach for implementation of the event. The objectives for Camp Jeep 2002 were to draw more than 8,000 people to the event; to generate more than 250 million media impressions nationally; to ensure the event was successful, well-received, and enhanced the Jeep brand’s reputation; and to increase consumer consideration for the Jeep brand in their next vehicle purchase cycle
The overall strategy for Camp Jeep 2002 was to create a buzz around the event to generate extensive media coverage to help draw large numbers of Jeep owners to the event, where brand loyalty and consumer consideration to continue purchasing Jeeps could be enhanced. This strategy would be supported by the following:
· Event elements – centralized Branson, Mo., location within a one-day’s drive for 50 percent of the U.S. population; new extreme sports arena featuring demonstrations and guided instruction from Olympic-caliber athletes; free outdoor musical concerts featuring nationally-known entertainers; and, more than 50 lifestyle activities (outdoor cooking classes, children’s activities), outdoor events (hiking, kayaking) and workshops.
· Media outreach – distribution of national news releases; extensive local distribution of news releases and media materials; creation and distribution of b-roll footage and a VNR; booking DCX spokespeople on a national radio tour; aggressive media outreach to local television news morning shows for onsite coverage; and, working onsite to support media interview/photography requests.
· Quality of experience – production of a unique, well-run event; extensive advance planning; clear communications among the team and with vendors; and, staff of knowledgeable, skilled people.
 The Camp Jeep 2002 team felt an event of this caliber, if executed with the above strategic approach,
had the potential to achieve the objectives of the program.
Following months of extensive planning, the Camp Jeep 2002 team began work in early 2002. News releases and media advisories were distributed nationally. Media lists were developed targeting the following segments of outlets: automotive consumer and trade; outdoor enthusiast/extreme sports;  women and family; men and women general interest; sports and fitness; and travel and leisure. Media kits, welcome and gift packages were prepared for media attending the event.
In the months prior to Camp Jeep 2002, direct mail and emails were sent to Jeep owners in 17 Midwest states. Jeep owners were able to register online or by phone. Following registration, personalized information packets with lists of activities and directions to the site were sent.
The event venue in Branson, Mo. was built on more than 900 acres of private land. 300,000 cubic feet of dirt was moved, and 100 tons of rocks and logs were brought in to build the courses and were taken back out at the end of the event, leaving the site in its original state. More than 180 tents comprised the display and activity space for the participants. Staffing totaled more than 2,000 for the event.
The on-site initiatives were:
· Media activities – The Camp Jeep 2002 team welcomed media with a reception and a dinner with DCX President and CEO Dieter Zetsche and other DCX executives. The team escorted local media at the event and answered questions, as well as coordinated live radio remotes and assisted with E! Entertainment and CMT program productions. A live satellite media tour was conducted with John Oates. The Camp Jeep 2002 team was onsite for ten days to ensure a successful event.
· Consumer activities/ Day 1 – Jeep owners were welcomed by local government officials, police and fireman. Attendees swarmed the Rubicon Challenge, an off-road course, which had long lines all day long. At the end of the day, attendees were treated to dinner and a live outdoor concert by pop-duo Hall & Oates.
· Consumer activities/ Day 2 – Jeep owners tested off-road driving skills on the 4x4 Trail Rides throughout the day while children carved walking sticks and participated in other family activities. Engineering roundtables were also very crowded with Jeep owners, who loved the opportunity to share their opinions.
· Consumer activities/ Day 3 – Attendees were entertained in the Thrills & Spills Zone where the world’s top riders, jumpers and racers put on a show with their BMX bikes, skateboards, and mountain bikes. To take a break from the heat, Jeep owners lined up to learn how to scuba dive. That evening, attendees gathered for the grand finale “Jeep Jubilee” picnic, fireworks, and concert featuring The Blues Brothers and New York firefighter Danny Rodriguez.
More than 8,000 Jeep owners and enthusiasts attended Camp Jeep
Through pre-event media coverage, approximately 17 million people were reached through daily newspapers such as the New York Post and more than 44 interviews were conducted on radio stations across the country.
More than 15 local television stories aired segments through the course of the weekend event; 30 media outlets attended the event including E! Entertainment Television, Country Music Television (CMT), RTL Television (German TV Network), Motor Trend Television and JP Magazine.
Along with media results described above, more than 250 million media impressions were reached nationally
The results accomplished for Camp Jeep 2002 completely surpassed expectations. A post-event survey of attendees indicated that 95 percent of respondents would recommend the Camp Jeep event to friends, 98 percent would recommend a Jeep vehicle to friends/family, and 90 percent plan to purchase more Jeep vehicles in the future.
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