Grateful for the Adventure: Nantahala Outdoor Center


As we enter the holiday season, it’s important to pause and offer our gratitude for the clients that entrust Element Advertising with growing their business.

Last spring, Element and Nantahala Outdoor Center embarked on their own adventure together. NOC hadn’t previously made such a substantial investment in paid media. After an RFP process that included agencies from Charlotte and Knoxville, they chose Element thanks to our experience in the travel and tourism space, as well as our emphasis on and core skills in research, media planning, and creative execution. It also helped that Element can claim several whitewater and paddling enthusiasts among our staff.

Upon being selected for this exciting assignment, we immediately engaged Chris Cavanaugh of Magellan Strategy Group to develop insights into NOC’s guests. Those insights then populated the creative briefs we strategized, putting the creative team on the right path.

The challenge before us was simple: execute an advertising campaign supporting the company’s guided trips for whitewater rafting and their amazing zip line adventures. Our efforts were also designed to leverage NOC’s reputation as a premier outfitter and one of the Southeast’s most popular attractions. Families became the obvious audience segment we would target, with parents as the “target within the target.”

After presenting four initial campaign directions with multiple executions within each, NOC chose a great option. We call it our “Kid’s Imagination” campaign. It represents how, in a child’s mind, an outdoor adventure lasts much longer than the activity itself and enters new dimensions in the retelling. Our campaign also touched on the added benefits of instilling confidence in kids by way of zip lining and whitewater rafting.


So how did the campaign do? Well, we’ll let these results speak for themselves:

  • Late summer (during the campaign) 2015 saw an 8.5% increase in website sessions and a 10.5% increase in new visitors to over the same period in 2014.
  • The campaign contributed 40K clicks, which was 15% of 2015’s late summer website traffic—making it the difference between having an increase in traffic and having a flat or down late summer.
  • Over 50% of first-time NOC rafting and zip line guests from July, August, and September reported seeing an NOC ad in 2015.
  • First-time rafting guests indicated a weighted average of 8.38 on a 1 to 10 scale of returning to NOC, with 10 being “extremely likely.” This makes them “lifetime” guest candidates.




Our new friends at NOC were very pleased, and all of us at Element are extremely thankful for the opportunity to have helped them exceed their revenue goals during the critical heart of their season. We mentioned our gratitude for opportunities such as this earlier, and that gratitude and our hard work have paid off: we’ve recently learned NOC is interested in continuing the relationship with us for what we hope will be more of the same great results in 2016. So stay tuned for updates on our adventures with NOC!

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