It's a mixture of mud and music, sport and spa, culture and child's play. It's Camp Jeep, the three-day outdoor extravaganza for Jeep owners staged by Jeep-maker Chrysler and agency BBDO Detroit. The 14th annual event took place in July at Oak Ridge Estate in central Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains.
Jeeps — of course — were on display, housed in the 37,000-square-foot “Jeep Journey” tent that also documented Jeep history and offered engineering displays. And, of course, guests enjoyed the chance to put Jeeps through their paces on 17 off-road trails that ranged from scenic to heart-stopping. “The off-road trails and courses provided Jeep owners and their families a tangible experience inside of a Jeep product in a real-world environment,” notes BBDO's Cory Trottier.
Guest could also plunge into other forms of outdoor adventure, including mountain biking, zip lines, rock-climbing walls and even a snow park offering ski and snowboarding demonstrations — despite the July heat.
But minds got a workout, too. The “Lifestyle Liberty” area of Camp Jeep presented historians sharing the lore of Virginia along with arts and crafts, a spa and an Internet lounge.
Superstars studded the scene, ranging from country troubadour Tim McGraw, who headlined the final night concert, to skateboard king Tony Hawk and Olympic gold medalist Shaun White.
The goal of Camp Jeep was to engage Jeep customers and retain their loyalty to the Jeep lifestyle, Trottier explains; he describes those customers as people who have “a contagious enthusiasm for life and a youthful outlook, and value their fun.”
That audience also values Camp Jeep. Although the goal of the event team was to have 7,100 attendees and 2,100 Jeep vehicles, instead, 10,220 guests showed up with 2,828 vehicles. The event team scrambled to boost the number of vehicles that could run through the all-important off-road trails, Jeep's signature capability.
By running two groups of 30 vehicles over eight of the 17 trails twice a day, the team managed to boost “trail throughput” by 1,350 vehicles. To avoid clogging the trails with one large group of 60 vehicles, the team split the group in half and sent the 30 Jeeps out 45 minutes apart. As a result, every Jeep owner had the chance to tackle at least two trails during the event; an estimated 4,190 Jeeps and 12,470 attendees hit the trails during the three-day event. And the event lived on the media, generating more than 400 million media impressions, Trottier says.
While Jeep stressed the wide open spaces, the team behind Mini United 2007 — the biennial festival for owners of the Mini car — stressed cyberspace. Working with BMW's Mini group, Munich, Germany-based Marketing and More helped car enthusiasts themselves generate buzz for the event, both before and after the fact.
Well before the festival, which ran Jun 22-24, the event team floated rumors online about when and where the festival would take place. Six months before, the event team launched the “miniunited.com” site, deliberately separate from the corporate site. To keep buzz going, the event team invited the Mini community's best-known bloggers to comment on the Mini United concept. Once Mini fans registered and paid online, they received their “starter kit,” which included car stickers, badges and other branded material.
At the site, just outside Amsterdam, Netherlands, Mini fans enjoyed three days of car displays, races and parties. The event team let attendees go on spreading news of the festival; within two weeks after the event ended, Mini fans had uploaded more than 12,000 photos to Web site Flicker.com, a worldwide host for both professional and amateur photographers.
All told, more than 8,000 Mini fans from 50 countries brought 3,000 Minis to Mini United 2007, a 25 percent boost over the 2005 event.
GO WITH THE GLOW
Autostadt, located in Wolfsburg, Germany, already draws crowds. The visitor attraction near Volkswagen's main factory brings in more than a million visitors a year to enjoy its striking architecture and to learn more about VW's brand.
But Autostadt management wanted to do more — specifically, to boost the summer's visitor count by 100,000 over the 2006 figure and to reinforce VW's image as an innovative, international brand. The result: Summer Glow, which ran July 7 through Sept. 2.
Teaming with Circ Corporate Experience of Wiesbaden, Germany, Autostadt management dreamed up a series of spectacles to enchant guests. To underscore VW's commitment to social and environmental responsibility, solar-powered boats let visitors glide over the site's lakes. Solar “grasses” — stalk-shaped stainless steel structures 30 feet high — swayed in the breeze by day and gave off light at night.
The lighthearted “Cool Summer Island” was an artificial island landscape resting on pontoons. Guests could sunbathe on the island by day and enjoy cocktails and music from well-known DJs at night. A floating “beach” complete with palm trees, deck chairs and its own swimming pool was moored nearby. Guests got a bird's-eye view of the landscape thanks to custom-built “heaven swings,” which swept them 42 feet into the air.
July 14 and 15 brought 18 jazz and blues musicians from throughout the world to Autostadt, while July 28 was dubbed the Night of the Artists. The 27,000-square-foot venue became a stage for 99 performance artists, jugglers and musicians staging 120 shows, carefully arranged so as to give the 19,000 guests that night a complete tour of the property.
The highlight of Summer Glow was Magic Waters, a month-long series of shows melding dramatic fountains with music, fire and light projections. Even at four shows a day, each show drew as many as 15,000 spectators.
Summer Glow left its creative team glowing as well: The visitor count soared by more than 220,000 guests, more than double the initial goal.
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