Capturing a piece of Americana embodied in the Flying W logo and “eyebrow design” that distinguished Winnebago Industries Inc.’s 1960s era motorhomes, the company has successfully resurrected those iconic symbols of the road in its line of Brave and Tribute Class A gas motorhomes.
“The retro styling has really been well received by buyers,” Winnebago Director of Marketing Chad Reece told RVBUSINESS.com. “It harkens back to the original look when we launched our first motorhome. We’re seeing a broad mix of consumers that are drawn to it – people that used to own a Winnebago or their parents or grandparents did, along with a lot of younger buyers that are making a connection.
“We’re not only hearing great reports from our dealers but also drivers who have said that people followed them until they stopped to ask them what kind of motorhome they were carrying. The Brave and Tribute just have that iconic eye appeal that resounds with people.”
Adding to the appeal is an eye-catching ad campaign that keys on consumers’ “need for nostalgia,” according to Reece. Driven by the tag line of “Peace, Love and Winnebago,” the campaign blends a 60s theme while also touting the array of modern-day amenities, technology and conveniences built into the motorhomes.
“We’ve been able to have a lot of fun with this product,” Reece said. “The ad has really caught on, and has generated a lot of buzz. There has also been a lot of interest from the national press. It’s definitely one of our most popular products from a PR standpoint. The ad is at the heart of the campaign, but there are variations as far as promotional materials. Of course, we’ll continue to develop the ad concept through the life of the product, but it looks like we hit a home run.”
Reece stressed that it was more than just the retro styling that was pumping sales. The Winnebago Brave and Itasca Tribute are loaded with features that match the standards demanded by today’s discerning RVer.
“A key part of our research and development was making sure we were in step with modern trends,” Reece said. “The engineering in the Brave and Tribute speaks to the needs of today’s consumer.”
He added, “We’ve been developing this product for several years. We were able to see some successes in the automotive industry – companies that went back to their roots – but there were also a lot of ideas that didn’t work. We knew that we only had one chance with this, so we wanted to make sure it was done right.”
Reece noted that Winnebago leaned on a loyal and experienced workforce when it entered the development stage. “Some of our most senior employees were around when Winnebago worked on its first prototype motorhome,” Reece said. “They were a big part of our early meetings, and everybody was immediately on board with the concept. That input really helped us tweak the end-product. Actually, the process included a wide swathe of employees. That’s how well thought-out the process was.”
Making their debut at America’s Largest RV Show in Hershey, Pa., the Brave and Tribute have continued to turn heads, according to Reece.
“We had a great showing at the California RV Show,” he said, “and we’ve had success across the country. Dealers are telling us that the Brave and Tribute have been turning quickly on their lots. That’s a really good thing – for us and our dealers.”
Winnebago will be showing the motorhomes at the National RV Trade Show, Dec. 2-4 in Louisville, Ky., while also including the coaches in a demonstration of the company’s build philosophy.
“We want to demonstrate how we design and construct our products,” Reece said. “We want to tell the story of how we do things at Winnebago.”