Metro Parks Tacoma: That’s the Point

Integrated Advertising Campaign

Metro Parks Tacoma owns and oversees a massive 2,905 acres of parks and recreational facilities in urban and rural areas throughout Tacoma and Pierce County, Washington, including the sprawling gem of Tacoma, Point Defiance Park. 


As a destination, the 760-acre Point Defiance Park has a 140-year history and a list of attractions to rival the great municipal parks of the world, with 3.1 million annual visitors. 

The Challenge

Even with more than three million visitors, guests were not taking advantage of all the park’s offerings. Park attractions didn’t cross-promote one another, and guests lacked awareness of the park’s rich history and ecology. They might come for the zoo, but never step foot in the museum. Or they might go for a hike, but never realize there were boat and kayak rentals. 


So how do you get customers to explore your physical place? And how do you get them to engage with that place, to spark curiosity and deepen experiences?

The Solution

We designed an interactive field guide and game—with prizes—and supported our efforts with targeted digital ads and a social media buzz campaign. 

The Field Guide / Game

Popping with delightful illustrations, maps, fun facts, and park history, the guide is both an informative brochure and game. It directs visitors to signs located throughout the park, each with a zone code that allows them to claim prizes online.


People connect to real stories. We interviewed visitors about their memories of Point Defiance and shared these on interpretive signs throughout the park. The signs also display a zone code as part of an interactive online game.


Retargeted ads reached a large audience and drove traffic to campaign-specific landing pages, where people learned more about the park. Boosted Facebook and Instagram posts built buzz around the new visitors guide and interactive game.


Our promotional products team had fun creating branded water bottles and a Thyme seedling kit. We also created coupons to attractions and events in Point Defiance Park. 

We automated the game with an online form and a congratulatory email. Participants submitting codes from story signs in each park zone would be entered in a drawing to win the Grand Prize —an All Access Pass to Metro Parks Tacoma attractions, valued at $450.

The Results

As you can see from the response from participants below, the campaign was popular with visitors: we grew public awareness. 


However, despite a beautiful product and well thought out plan, the project was not a success in the way we had hoped. 


With park attractions under separate management, not every location distributed field guides or promoted the signs, and a key stakeholder felt left out of the decision-making. The campaign languished.


No one likes to admit failure—especially not when we’re promoting our services to you. Yet it was a valuable learning experience for us. We designed a fantastic product, but we failed at the choreography.


From this early misstep, we discovered the critical importance of connection with—and involvement from—all stakeholders. Since then, we have assiduously worked to identify and meet with stakeholders at the outset of a major project. We strive to connect with them directly, rather than delegate communication. We ask about everyone’s concerns, and we take these seriously. We’ve learned that the should only begin when there’s buy-in from all involved.


It’s not a sexy result to boast, but it’s the truth, and we’re proud of it.

What Visitors Had To Say

We engage audiences with captivating programs.