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DOW working to increase elk license sales

In a new effort to promote elk license sales and support the rural communities that depend on hunting, the Colorado Division of Wildlife is launching a national marketing campaign aimed at challenging hunters to elevate their game by tackling a Colorado elk hunt this fall.

The “Elevate Your Game” campaign targets hunters age 30 to 65 using football terminology and themes to raise awareness of Colorado elk hunting opportunities. The integrated television, print and Web campaign, developed with Denver-based 5-Stone Advertising, is designed to reach millions of hunters across the country between mid-February and April 5.

Division of Wildlife Director Tom Remington said that while the campaign has a national reach, it’s designed as a proof-of-concept pilot project to test the effectiveness of marketing to resident and nonresident hunters alike. The goal of the campaign is to increase elk license applications for the limited license drawing, as well as sales of leftover and over-the-counter licenses later in the year.

“The Division of Wildlife’s ability to manage big game for Coloradans and visitors depends on hunters,” Remington said. “Hunting supports tens of thousands of jobs in dozens of communities across this state. Investing in new ways to encourage hunters to hunt in Colorado is just a smart thing to do.”

The division is believed to be the first state wildlife agency to pursue a national hunter recruitment campaign of this type.

Hunting, angling and wildlife viewing are important economic activities for Colorado and stimulate tourism to rural areas of the state.? Wildlife-based recreation has an annual economic impact of $3 billion across Colorado and ranks along with skiing as the top tourism drivers. Hunting and fishing generate $1.8 billion, supporting 20,614 jobs statewide each year. In the state’s top five wildlife-dependant counties, hunting and fishing account for between 5 percent and 12 percent of total jobs.

However, during the past five years, the division has seen the number of Colorado elk hunters decline by 37,500. Reversing this decline has become a top agency priority. An evaluation of the 2011 campaign will help determine if investing in direct outreach to hunters can convince more of them to hunt in Colorado.

The campaign features a 30-second television spot that will run for eight weeks during prime time on The Sportsman’s Channel and The Outdoor Channel, two premier national cable channels whose programming focuses on wildlife recreation. In addition, 5-Stone produced two 15-second Web ads that will run on popular hunting and fishing websites, such as FieldandStream.com, OutdoorLife.com and NorthAmericanHunter.com.

A third campaign element is a full-page print ad that will adorn the March issues of Outdoor Life and Game and Fish magazines, which have a combined circulation of 1.3 million.

Each of the campaign ads will direct hunters to a dedicated website, HuntColorado.org, which features a section on planning a Colorado hunt. In addition to Web-based ads, the site hosts a video that guides hunters through the license application process and a second video on planning a Colorado big-game hunt. Other links will direct hunters to the Colorado Tourism website for information on accommodations and the Department of Regulatory Affairs to find a registered outfitter.

Tyler Baskfield, the division’s communications manager, said that the division has increased its emphasis on customer service, with new products and services to ensure hunters get the information they need.

“We’re challenging hunters to ‘elevate their game’ with a Colorado elk hunt, so we’re raising our game in customer service to make the whole experience of hunting in Colorado as enjoyable and as easy as possible,” Baskfield said.? “We have world-class hunting and we are ready to provide world-class customer service to match.”

Hunters who visit the DOW website will find an interactive on-line version of the new, user-friendly big-game brochure and links to “Elk Hunting University,” a series of articles on the DOW Web page that give hunters skills training and planning tips for their elk hunt.

In addition, the division has staffed up its call center with special customer service representatives who are knowledgeable about the division’s licensing process and Colorado hunting in general. Called “Hunt Planners,” these hunting experts will provide the local knowledge and insider tips that can help ensure an enjoyable and successful hunt.

Al White, Director of Colorado Tourism and the former state Senator from Hayden, said that the DOW’s marketing campaign is an example of Gov. Hickenlooper’s focus on supporting sustainable jobs in Colorado communities.

“I’m very excited about the direction the DOW is taking with this approach of actively marketing and soliciting hunters to come to Colorado,” said White.?”I think the return on this marketing investment for the state will be phenomenal.”

“Hunting is a critical element to the northwest Colorado economy and until now, our success has been based on word of mouth and trade shows,” added Craig Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Christina Oxley. “This is a bold move that will?benefit the entire state. Kudos to the DOW for being a true community partner and taking this proactive step.”

For a downloadable copy of the 2011 Big Game Brochure, visit the Division’s website at http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/.

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