Nature’s keepers: Campbell River’s stewardship-centred campaign

Annika Rautiola

15 October 2023

In the spring of 2023, we had an opportunity to build a campaign that surpassed conventional marketing. It ventured into the community’s very soul.

In ƛəmataxʷ Campbell River, British Columbia, there is a unique and symbiotic relationship between its inhabitants and the encompassing natural world. It’s a place where nature isn’t just a backdrop, it’s the essence of the destination. With majestic mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and expanses of untamed forest, the city finds itself cradled in nature’s wonders. 

For generations, nature has been the city’s lifeblood, nurturing its growth and enriching the lives of its residents. This legacy is woven into the very fabric of Campbell River, shaping its identity, culture, and purpose.

Yet, beneath this surface connection lies something even more profound – a shared sense of stewardship. Here, the locals aren’t just beneficiaries of nature’s gifts; they’re its guardians. It’s a collective commitment to safeguarding the source of their livelihoods and the heartbeat of their community.

This is what Destination Think wanted to capture in a campaign for Destination Campbell River. Together, we started to craft a timeless campaign that would provide a human perspective on Campbell River to build awareness and improve the city’s brand reputation.


The building blocks

Care for nature

From the outset of the campaign development, it was clear that a multitude of organizations and groups within the community were deeply engaged in forward-thinking environmental restoration efforts. Adding to that, numerous tourism operators were actively involving visitors in nurturing the environment. Their efforts range from protecting the old-growth forest to immersive beach clean-up experiences and dedicated conservation fees. These initiatives echoed what Campbell River’s brand is about: practical stewardship of nature. 

Care for nature is the essence that served as the cornerstone of the campaign. This value resonates with the local residents, it’s a source of pride, an integral part of the local identity – and something they are eager to share with their visitors. 


Value-aligned audience

British Columbia is no stranger to jaw-droppingly beautiful destinations, and Campbell River, tucked away in the Island’s northern reaches, can be a little hard to find. So, how do you make it stand out among the competition? The answer was in the resonance of values. Our goal wasn’t to beckon everyone, it was to beckon the right visitors. And so, we set our sights on travellers who, like Campbell River, believed in preserving and protecting nature. 

Nature’s heroes

While the focus of the campaign was on stewardship, instead of focusing on the practice itself we wanted to pull out the human stories. We embarked on a journey to meet the unsung heroes, the custodians of this pristine environment. The goal was to encapsulate this spirit of stewardship in a campaign that connected the audience to the values of Campbell River.

Through interviews with local organizations and tourism operators, we heard deeply personal stories, like how one person’s passion for nature led him away from the oil and gas industry to start a carbon-neutral tour company and how a sensitive estuary damaged by industries has become one of the most beloved recreational areas in the city after many years of dedicated revitalization efforts. 


Alignment with the destination strategy

Every aspect of the campaign was integrated with the Destination Campbell River’s long-term strategy. By anchoring the city’s reputation into the values of the community, we’ve showcased Campbell River as a place committed to nurturing its natural environment – the essence of the destination experience.

Through prior collaborations with the local tourism industry, Destination Campbell River had already identified three key niches – cold water diving, fishing, and nature – that supported the destination’s goal of boosting visitation beyond the peak summer months. 

Maintaining public support for tourism in Campbell River was also a priority. This campaign was designed to actively contribute to this goal by fostering a profound respect among visitors for local ways of life, honouring First Nations culture, and preserving the environment. In doing so, we ensured that tourism not only thrives but also directly enhances the overall well-being of the community.

The output

Through a series of intimate interviews that yielded nine compelling narratives, we delved deep into each resident’s motivations, their aspirations, and the unwavering dedication that fuels their environmental work. These stories came to life not just in written form, but in three evocative videos that showcased the individuals and businesses while paying homage to the awe-inspiring nature that lies at the heart of the city’s campaign. 

See for yourself:


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