Sometimes, one must see things through a child’s eyes to truly appreciate them, to capture that sense of wonder. That’s the case of a new public service campaign by the Ad Council and David&Goliath to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act.
The US Forest Service and the Ad Council have launched a new extension of the successful ‘Discover the Forest’ public service campaign, and it illustrates how trails are one of the best guides to nature, unlocking moments of discovery and inspiring curiosity.
Through beautiful multimedia creative, Discover the Forest continues to deliver on its overarching goal of encouraging children to develop an early love of nature, thereby creating future stewards of the nation’s public lands.
The centerpiece of the campaign is a lovely 60-second spot titled ‘Discover the Unsearchable’ that follows a father and daughter on a forest adventure. It starts in the home, where the girl is drawing pictures of trees, then asks her voice assistant on her smartphone if trees tell each other stories. Her father hears it and suggests the two take a trip to the forest. Throughout the spot, the daughter takes in the nature around her while posing questions to her smartphone, such as ‘Do clouds take naps? Can birds draw pictures? Do stars visit their friends?’ And she realizes that some answers can only be found on a trail.
“There is so much to explore and discover once you step outdoors,” said Lisa Sherman, president and chief executive of the Ad Council. “A first-hand experience with nature is one of the best ways to explore and inspire. While the technology that drives our daily lives has its own set of benefits, we hope this campaign will remind families of the bonds and memories that can be forged when we put down our phones and discover all that nature has to offer.”
A release by the Ad Council stated that studies have shown that 79% of kids wish they could experience more outdoor adventures, yet only 59% of parents report regularly or occasionally visiting a forest or park with their family. Being outdoors is found to enhance creativity, improve attention span and increase problem-solving abilities. Despite the benefits, families struggle to find time together outdoors, due to competing demands and the realities of overly scheduled lives. Parents also report not having enough information and know-how to plan for a trip to the forest.
Discover the Forest emphasizes how trails can help make a trip to the forest, and the meaningful experiences that come with it, more attainable for all families.
“It’s important for children to experience and connect with their national forests and grasslands. Studies have shown that if a child experiences the wonders of the great outdoors, they are far more likely to revisit a forest as an adult. Moreover, they share the experience with their own children,” said USDA Forest Service interim chief Vicki Christiansen. “For this, and many other reasons, the Forest Service is committed to working with partnering organizations like the Ad Council on awareness campaigns as successful as Discover the Forest.”
The PSAs were created pro bono by David&Goliath. The new suite of TV, radio, out of home, digital and social assets drive audiences to DiscoverTheForest.org, where they can search for forests and parks near them. The anthem spot was directed by writer, actor and director Matt Ross (Silicon Valley, Captain Fantastic).
“We live in this world where technology consumes our every thought and doesn’t seem to be slowing down,” said David Angelo, founder and chairman of David&Goliath. “We need to inspire people to break away from the exponential chatter and listen to the thoughts that have been with us long before technology. Because you never know what you’ll discover, in the forest.”
In addition, media partners including Pinterest and Geocaching are supporting the Discover the Forest effort. Pinterest has created custom, trails-focused content for the Discover the Forest Pinterest channel and is supporting the campaign via donated media on the platform. Geocaching, a global community of adventure seekers searching for cleverly hidden containers around the world, launched a Discover the Forest program.
This program will leverage Geocaching’s unique combination of outdoor recreation and location-based technology to encourage exploration of America’s trails.