RV ad campaign reaches out to outdoor enthusiasts

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As the recreational vehicle industry recovers from the Great Recession, Kampgrounds of America is striving to reach RV enthusiasts with what it says is its first national TV commercial.

The effort by KOA, a 52-year-old network of campgrounds, takes an approach similar to the recreational boating industry’s Grow Boating campaign.

The KOA’s spot introduces the slogan, “What’s Behind the Yellow Sign?” According to market research by the company reported in the New York Times, as many as 95 percent of respondents recall seeing its red-and-yellow logo — a tepee with the letters KOA — on signs alongside highways, but many do not know what the letters stand for.

The commercial opens with an RV driving down a tree-lined road on a summer day. Inside a mother plays a game at a table with her daughter and a boy sits cross-legged on a sofa beside a golden retriever.

“You’ve driven past it a thousand times, that bright yellow KOA sign,” a voice-over says as the RV passes the campground and the father, who is driving, looks in the rear-view mirror. “But what if you’d stopped, what unforgettable moments were waiting, where everything is taken care of, freeing you to connect with the people you love in places where distractions just melt away?”

At the campground they fish, use a climbing wall, swim in the pool and gather by a campfire.

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association says sales of motor homes and towable trailers reached a 30-year high of 390,500 in 2006. The recession and rising gasoline prices drove sales down 58 percent, to 165,700, in 2009.

The RV industry has since bounced back, showing steady year-over-year growth during the past four years. It shipped 321,127 units in 2013 and shipments climbed 11 percent more during the first four months of this year, compared with the same period a year earlier.