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The Go RVing Coalition is likely to need a minimum of another $4 million between 2006-2008 to keep pace with the exposure it has generated among consumers during the most recent phase of the Go RVing market expansion program that ends next year.
That was the assessment of The Richards Group, the national campaign’s Dallas-based agency, as the coalition met in late September in Las Vegas, Nev., during the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA) Convention/Expo.
Industry leaders will also need to determine by next June whether they would like to spend more money to reach even more potential customers, according to Gary LaBella, vice president of public relations and advertising for the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
“The question for the coalition will be: Are we content to keep the program at the same level it has been for the last three years?” LaBella told RV Business after the meeting. “Or, is the industry interested in taking it to yet another level, meaning providing more money for network TV and sustained advertising deeper into the summer, and the increased exposure that will give us?
“We’ve faced this decision two times before, and each time the industry has opted to take the next step.”
The Go RVing assessment on the RVIA seal affixed to each RV built by RVIA members last increased in 2002 when a $44 flat fee was hiked to $55 for towables and $66 for motorhomes while remaining $44 for folding camping trailers and truck campers.
The incremental $4 million increase represents an anticipated 6% annual increase in media costs – the average annual increase over the last 10 years, LaBella said.
For the current Phase III – 2003 through 2005 – Go RVing is spending an estimated $41 million on advertising. Some $14 million was spent on media this year and the same is budgeted for 2005. “No one that I’ve talked to wants to take a step backward from that,” LaBella said.
Meanwhile, LaBella reported that a new “fulfillment” video will be sent to potential consumers contacting Go RVing when network advertising resumes in February. The video, which will be previewed at the “Outlook Breakfast,” Nov. 30 at the 42nd Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky., will be available with expanded information for the first time on DVD.
There will be no radio advertising in 2005. “We decided to take the $500,000 that we planned to spend on radio and put it into network TV,” LaBella said.
Radio ads for dealers to use on local radio stations will still be available, as will new “B-roll” video for local television advertising.
Also under development is an Internet-based direct mail builder that will allow participating dealers to manage their own direct mail advertising initiative.
At the Las Vegas meeting, coalition members also reviewed a study by the Southeastern Institute of Research (SIR), Richmond, Va., indicating that in the last year general awareness of RV advertising significantly increased among families, with 44% of households reporting seeing or hearing recent ads promoting family travel in RVs compared to 34% in 2003.
SIR, which queried 2,405 people ages 30-64 with an annual family income of at least $40,000, also reported that attitudes regarding RVs are generally positive, and that respondents who were able to recall Go RVing’s “Pursue your Passions” theme held a more favorable opinion of RVing than those unaware of the slogan.
Almost a third of those who recalled the Go RVing slogan, SIR reported, felt they will someday purchase an RV.
On the negative side, two out of five respondents said higher gas prices made it less likely that they would buy an RV in the next 12 months.
“The SIR report was interesting,” said coalition co-chairman Tom Stinnett, owner of Tom Stinnett RV Freedom Center, Clarksville, Ind. “It didn’t give us a lot of new material, but it certainly confirms some of the customer trends we have been seeing for a while now.”
Stinnett gave a Go RVing update on the SIR findings during a general session at the RVDA Convention, and Co-Chairman Donald J. Walters, president and CEO of Starcraft RV Inc., Topeka, Ind., offered a similar presentation during RVIA’s annual meeting Sept. 27-29 in Aspen, Colo.
Through September, overall leads generated by Go RVing were up by 42% compared to 2003, and Go RVing impressions – the number of times the advertising was seen – hit 2 billion for the first time.