RVIA logoAfter a stormy year, an enthusiastic audience of 1,000 cast an optimistic eye to the future of the RV industry at today’s “Outlook 2010: Let the Sun Shine” kickoff breakfast to the 47th Annual National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

Hosted by RVIA Chairman of the Board Jim Sheldon, the popular market expansion showcase featured an industry forecast by RVIA President Richard Coon; engaging tales from the road by Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz, hosts of History’s new show, “American Pickers;” the debut of innovative new Go RVing ads set for launch in early 2010; a hilarious appearance by Silvio DiSalvatore, the winner of NBC’s hit reality show “Great American Road Trip;” and a broad perspective on the industry’s history by RV historian and RVIA Spirit of America Award winner David Woodworth. The event concluded with a stirring tribute to the RV industry as it embarks on its 100th year, according to a press release.

In a presentation titled “Radiant, Relevant and Ready,” Coon delivered the latest RV shipment numbers, reporting that 16,600 total units were shipped in October, an increase of 23% over October 2008 shipments. Seasonally adjusted, October shipments hit an annual rate of more than 216,000 units, marking the third consecutive month that annualized shipments topped 200,000 units. Acknowledging that challenges still lie ahead though the worst may be over for the RV industry, Coon said, “RVs are woven into the fabric of America. Americans love RVing, they love our products and how they enrich their lives, allowing them to spend time in the great outdoors with loved ones.”

Go RVing Co-Chairmen Dicky Riegel and Tom Stinnett then took the stage with RVIA Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Gary LaBella for Go RVing: “Spreading Sunshine in ’09 and Beyond.” The two reported that, on a dramatically reduced budget, the industry ad campaign still secured a half-billion consumer impressions in 2009, resulting in approximately 100,000 new leads.

The industry coalition then debuted four new television ads developed by Go RVing’s ad agency, The Richards Group, and set for launch in February.

The animated television commercials keep the “Go Affordably, Go RVing” theme while introducing the new “Ambassadors of Affordability” – animals from the popular “What Will You Discover” print ads animated with voices and cutting-edge special effects.

The cornerstone of the campaign is a spot featuring the animal ambassadors singing the classic Western ballad, “Back in the Saddle Again,” in a lush forest setting. Starring a bison, bear and fox with a full supporting cast of animals big and small, the spot concludes with the tagline, “It’s amazing how affordable an RV vacation can be. Visit GoRVing.com for a free video. Go Affordably. Go RVing,” while on-screen signage includes a call-to-action to “visit an RV dealer” and GoRVing.com.

Wolfe and Fritz, hosts of the new show “American Pickers,” then took the stage to assist in introducing Go RVing’s cross-platform media buy on the History network that will be a key part of next year’s ad campaign. The duo regaled attendees with engaging tales of their travels through America’s heartland in search of valuable antiques that have been hidden away and neglected – often buried at the back of someone’s beat-up barn in the middle of nowhere.

In RVIA Public Relations: “Keeping Our Image Bright,” Public Relations Committee Chairman B.J. Thompson and RVIA Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Gary LaBella discussed how RVIA’s PR team helped keep RVing’s reputation untarnished during a particularly gloomy news environment by emphasizing to the media that RVing is an affordable way for stressed families to reconnect. Thompson added that the affordability message will continue to resonate with post-recession consumers, and the two outlined five key post-recession trends: simplicity, discretionary thrift, mercurial consumption, instantaneous influence, and living green. LaBella and Thompson stressed that an awareness of these new spending behaviors will ensure that the RV industry has the opportunity to bring new people into the market who may not have considered RVing in the past.

DiSalvatore, winner of NBC’s hit reality show “Great American Road Trip,” added some levity to the event as he entertained Outlook attendees with a humorous take on his family’s RV adventures while filming the popular reality show. A favorite contestant among the show’s 33 million fans, DiSalvatore’s Yonkers, N.Y., charm was on display as he delivered a message that RVing is a terrific way for busy families to reconnect.

Noted RV historian David Woodworth was given RVIA’s prestigious “Spirit of America” award in recognition of his two decades of service to the industry as an enthusiastic ambassador and media spokesperson.

Woodworth, who will lead a two-week RV Centennial Media Tour in April, discussed the growth of the RV industry over the past 100 years, and encouraged attendees to participate in Centennial Celebrations.

The morning event concluded on a rousing note as LaBella and Thompson joined Woodworth in leading a stirring toast to the industry as it embarks on its Centennial. The audience of 1,000 rose to salute its proud history, paying tribute to the values of freedom espoused by the RV industry, and saluting “To building the affordable dream … To the past hundred years – and to the next hundred years … To the lure of the open road  … To the pioneering spirit … To the simple life … To going green … To the great outdoors … To a year of sunshine… To a century of sunshine.”

Members of The Louisville Chorus, dressed in gospel choir robes, joined the onstage band in singing “Let the Sun Shine” as the toast concluded.

A DVD of “Outlook 2010: Let the Sun Shine” will be available to RVIA members soon. To obtain a copy, contact Courtney Robey, public relations manager, at [email protected] or (703) 620-6003 ext. 306.