The RV industry’s ongoing public relations campaign apparently has scored one of its biggest coups of late with a flattering 2,000-word feature story about the RV industry in Time magazine’s April 7th business edition, which reportedly draws more than nine million readers a week.
“It’s a nice hit for us,” reports Alan Piercy, director of communications for the Reston, Va.-based Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA).
Piercy says the story in large part is a product of links established over the past few months by RVIA’s public relations firm, Philadelphia-based Barton, Gilanelli & Associates.
Interviews for the story were initially conducted during RVIA’s Louisville Show in December, Piercy said, adding that Time was so impressed by the growth of the industry that additional reporters and photographers were called in to help in researching the article.
“The average RV owner isn’t Joe Six-Pack anymore. It’s Joe Chardonnay,” Monaco Coach Corp. Director of Investor Relations Mike Duncan is quoted as saying in the April 7 story.
Time looks at some of the more famous people now imbibing the RV lifestyle, including Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal and former Maine Gov. Angus King. In addition to mentioning Jack Nicholson’s latest movie, “About Schmidt,” Time quotes Winnebago Industries Chairman Bruce Hertzke regarding the fuel-efficiency of some of today’s motorhomes, most notably Winnebago’s 22-foot, Volkswagen based Rialta motorhome.
Keying on the buying habits of Baby Boomers, Time queried several recent RV buyers about their motivations for purchasing a recreational vehicle. “Getting into a motorhome is so much easier than messing around with airports,” said Jeff Barr, 41, of St. Louis, whose wife was a flight attendant for 17 years until she got laid off in January. The Barrs purchased a used 2001 Holiday Rambler Endeavor last September for $137,000, which they hope to use at least twice a month.
RV popularity, Time points out, also reflects America’s post-9/11 wariness of flying and its fixation on the need to spend quality time with family.
“You started thinking about things that are near and dear to you, and how quickly it could all be taken away,” said Dave Davidson, 40, a father of three from Los Angeles who bought a 40-foot National RV Islander last year for $190,000. He and his family already have logged 16,000 miles to destinations as diverse as Graceland and Aspen, Colo.