As Americans navigated the global pandemic, many looked towards National Conservation Lands as a source of recreation, connection, and activity, with more of them seeking less crowded places. In 2021, visitation on Bureau of Land Management lands was up to 10% with more than 80 million visitors, with similar increases experienced in 2019 and 2020. Visitors are often not well informed about how to visit BLM lands safely and respectfully, resulting in behaviors such as vandalism, littering, or environmental degradation. Visitors are also often unprepared, putting themselves in avoidable life-threatening situations. BLM’s law enforcement reported 3,200 search and rescues between 2016-2021.
To mitigate this, and on May 1, 2023, Conservation Lands Foundation, in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management and Friends Grassroots Network, launched the #RespectConnectProtect campaign across digital platforms. With strategy and execution support led by Propper Daley, our goal was to build a movement of future guardians of these lands that will ultimately foster more safe and responsible visits. To do this, we aimed for the campaign to reach 3-5 million Gen-Z and Millennials (ages 16-30), educate them, and reignite their connection to the public lands.
The Conservation Lands Foundation and Propper Daley teams developed the campaign messaging and voice by conducting listening sessions with key stakeholders - Conservation Lands Foundation, Bureau of Land Management, Friends Grassroots Network, Indigenous organizations, law enforcement, and other members of the working group. After a multiphase process to create three potential messaging directions, we partnered with a third party agency to conduct multiple focus groups of individuals in the target demographic (ages 15-30). The final focus group included only Indigenous youth. To ensure the final creative tone matched with the initial testing directive, actual campaign videos were digitally tested with the target audience. It was essential that the project reflect stakeholder groups’ input and feedback, which required multiple phases of reviews, edits, and alignment meetings to stay on track with our robust production timeline. However, the team’s diligence, focus, and passion for the cause allowed us to remain focused on our overall goal.
The research found that a playful and fun voice that still had the power to inspire and evoke action resonated the most with our target audience. From there, we established the voice of “Spokespebble”, a fictional, animated character, who spread our key #RespectConnectProtect messaging. Spokespebble was the star of four core videos and several cutdowns, each themed with a different pillar of #RespectConnectProtect.
We deployed a robust digital campaign, including partners such as Bureau of Land Management, Leave No Trace, and Recreate Responsibly posting and amplifying, adding their own voice. In addition to the videos, we created customized static social media assets (postcards, meme-style assets) for partners to post organically and join in on the fun.
The first video released was viewed by more than 1.1 million people. In its first month, the campaign surpassed its goal, generating 7.3 million impressions (as of June 9th) and has started to inspire a movement of land stewardship by promoting the values of connectivity to potential visitors as we work to ensure these lands remain preserved for generations to come.