To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act, the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council are launching a new extension of the successful Discover the Forest public service campaign. The newest iteration of the campaign 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.
“Technology has given our children so many opportunities for education and exploration,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “But 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.”
Recent studies show that 79 percent of kids wish they could experience more outdoor adventures, yet only 59 percent of parents report regularly or occasionally visiting a forest or park with their family. Being outdoors is known to enhance creativity, improve attention span and increase problem-solving abilities. Despite these clear 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 advertising agency 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 cinematic anthem was directed by award-winning writer, actor and director Matt Ross (Silicon Valley, Captain Fantastic). The PSAs pose the reality that there are still questions in the world that technology cannot answer.
“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 to the work produced in partnership with David&Goliath, 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.
The United States Forest Service launched the Discover the Forest campaign in partnership with the Ad Council in 2009. In the past year, there have been nearly 170.6K searches for forests or parks on DiscovertheForest.org, and more than 60% of parents surveyed recognize a Discover the Forest ad. The campaign has earned more than $369.7 million in total donated media support since the original launch.