Great Wolf Resorts hires two new agencies to help make a post-pandemic splash
As it navigates the changes to the travel landscape spurred by the pandemic, Great Wolf Resorts will have some new agency partners to help along the way. The Chicago-based water park operator has tapped Erich and Kallman as its creative agency of record, and Horizon Media as media agency of record, following a review that began in November.
One silver lining during the pandemic, when millions were forced to stay home under lockdowns, was that families rediscovered the importance of quality time together, according to Brooke Patterson, senior VP of brand experiences at Great Wolf. That insight helped spur the new agency search, she says.
“As a brand, we felt we have a mission around creating goals and family time and a great experience,” she says, noting that Great Wolf is accessible to many with its nearly 20 locations across the U.S. and Canada. “It was the right time for us to think about how we partner and really find the best-in-class agencies to support us in developing not only the right creative message and platform, but also on the media side figuring out innovative ways to find our target audience.”
Great Wolf worked with Avi Dan of marketing consultancy Avidan Strategies on the search.
Like nearly all travel brands, Great Wolf has been challenged during the pandemic as consumers stayed home and avoided crowded spaces like indoor water parks as potential germ breeding grounds. Last year, worldwide ad spending for 23 travel companies tracked by Ad Age Datacenter fell 60%, while revenue for the brands declined 62%.
After closing locations last spring, Great Wolf, which is majority owned by Blackstone Group, began re-opening on a state-by-state basis in June, promising a “Paw Pledge” of safety measures and social distancing guidelines. The program includes special sanitization methods and contactless payments, as well as sickness checks for employees, called the “pack.”
In recent months, demand has picked up, Patterson says.
“Getting through the pandemic was about keeping the pack and families safe but still allowing them a way that they could get away and remotely play for day-to-day,” she says.
The new work will debut later this year. It should focus on family-bonding time as something most consumers try to continue to prioritize post COVID-19. “The ability to really interact and engage uninterrupted with your family is something that’s important to guests right now,” Patterson says. “Part of this new creative platform is going to showcase how we can support our guest in that goal of maintaining that quality family time.”
Great Wolf formerly worked with MRM/McCann for creative and Spark for media.
To learn more about pandemic-spurred marketing trends, attend Ad Age Next: Retail, a livestreamed conference on April 20. Buy your ticket here.