strategy

Brands Sponsor State Park Guides, Eco-Programs

20% For the Parks

Just in time for summer, Odwalla, GEICO, Nestlé Beverage, General Mills, Dasani, Coca-Cola, Subaru, and Sports Authority have all signed on as sponsors of the 2009 20% For Parks program.

More than six million State Park Welcome Kits were shipped on June 1, making it one of the largest outdoor recreational publications. Sponsors pay for the production and shipping of the kits, and parks receive a 20% cut of net proceeds, plus the guides. The kit is printed annually and handed to visitors by park rangers at the gate. Ninety-eight percent of visitors keep the guide and use it to plan future trips. The kits are produced at no cost to the states, taxpayers, or park visitors.

This year's guide is expected to be even more popular, since more consumers are opting for "staycations" this summer, which is likely to result in a bump in park visitations. Recent research points to other important business trends: corporate cause sponsorship budgets are holding strong, and the support of socially responsible programs has a proven impact on a company's bottom line: Revenue growth, profit and cost savings, according to Government Solutions Group (GSG), the agency behind the program.

In addition to the visitor guides, the 20% For Parks brand develops corporate environmental sponsorship opportunities ranging from reforestation and solar projects to carbon sequestration or education programs. Overall, 20% For Parks raised more than $4 million in the last five years.

The Web site created for the sponsorship at http://www.parkvisitor.com/20forparks/ promises consumers that "every time you see the 20% For Parks logo, you can be certain that the participating company has a deep commitment to public lands." Sponsors and their individual environmental programs are detailed at http://www.parkvisitor.com/20forparks/supporters.html.

"Odwalla is expanding its participation in 20% For Parks in 2009," says Chris Brandt, Odwalla vice president of marketing. "It reinforces the environmental responsibility of our company in a really fun, unique way that our consumers enjoy. With GSG, we developed the online Odwalla Plant-a-Tree program in 2008, and because it did so well, we're nearly doubling our efforts this year."

GSG matches the sponsor companies with state parks nationwide in a variety of environmental sponsorships. Companies get to reach eco-enthusiasts while giving back to the earth.

Last year, Odwalla supported its consumer tree-planting program through sampling at running, surfing and volleyball events at state parks. The Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Southern California sponsored the Reforest California campaign, a reforestation project that raised over $600,000 and 1 million trees for wildfire-scarred parklands in Southern California.

Pasadena, Calif.-based GSG has multi-year contracts to create Park Visitor Welcome Kits with 11 of the largest state park systems in the country, representing 46% of total state park visitation and over 1,200 parks in California, New York, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, Colorado, Texas, Michigan, Maryland and Virginia.

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