NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Few retail stores can say they also serve as theme parks, summer camps and community centers in their regions, but Bass Pro Shops has made itself an exception.
Starting as a small display of bass baits less than three decades ago, the Bass Pro brand has grown to include 56 behemoth "Outdoor World" locations all over the U.S. and Canada, guided by CEO Johnny Morris. It also has a growing presence in TV, radio and publishing properties nationwide, and a marketing strategy that has turned its bigger-than-life retail footprint into an element of its brand identity.
Bass Pro spokesman Larry Whitley said creating retail spaces that are veritable destinations is at the core of Bass Pro Shops' expansion. "When you enter the front doors, you go through turnstiles," Mr. Whitely told Ad Age earlier this year. "It's because you're entering an attraction, not just a [retail space]."
More than 110 million customers are expected to pass through those turnstiles this year alone, according to company estimates. What they'll find is 150,000-plus square feet of outdoor and lifestyle merchandise amid live aquariums, waterfalls, mounted wildlife and game, demonstrations all in a space that's designed and organized based on the region in which it's located.
During the summer, parents can take their kids to the free in-store Family Summer Camp, where they can try their hands at BB-gun shooting, archery, fishing, tent-pitching and bird-watching (and, of course, s'more-eating). Bass Pro partners with several brands to host these integrated events, which help draw even more traffic into the store and put merchandise in the hands of consumers at crucial selling points.
Kantar Media estimates the company spent more than $23 million in measured media last year, and sunk nearly $20 million as of August of this year.
The company produces five different TV shows, which appear on Versus TV and the Outdoor Channel, a host of brand integrations and custom publishing deals, Nascar sponsorship with Daytona 500-winning driver Jamie McMurray and a thriving social-media presence -- its number of likes on Facebook has nearly doubled to 588,948 in the past six months alone.