Case Study: The North Lake Tahoe Human Powered Sports Campaign

October 28, 2019

When Abbi Whitaker has an idea, it’s pen to paper; all hands on deck.  Such was the case last spring when one morning we were sitting at a conference table in our small agency office and out of the blue, she said, “we need to develop a content campaign for North Lake Tahoe. How-To Videos, an Infograph and eBook, branded images, all distributed through social media channels.”

David Bunker and I feverishly nodded our heads, started building upon the idea and a few other team members trickled into the conversation, all adding creative tactics and layers to the campaign. The next thing you know, we sprung into action.

That’s the thing about our team – we play to individual strengths so while the big idea might not come from me, I sure as hell know how to execute it. David can write it, Nicole can design it, Connie can fact check it, Allegra can launch it, Brooke can connect the dots to key vendors who will make it authentic to the brand. I adore this team.

Here’s what we knew:

Lake Tahoe is the largest alpine lake in North America and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the U.S., hosting three million visit days each year. In the span of that year, visitors tend to infiltrate the region in two key seasons: summer and winter. They stick to what they know during their vacation and while North Tahoe is becoming increasingly known as a human powered sports destination through marquee events like Wanderlust, Tough Mudder and IRONMAN, these events only reach a small segment of the population who are dedicated athletes and festival-goers.

So… we identified four objectives and set a goal:


  1. Grow awareness of human powered activities in North Lake Tahoe
  2. Educate fans, followers and readers on sporting accessibility through how-to tactics
  3. Increase engagement on social channels
  4. Drive shoulder season tourism and diversify the vacationer experience


North Lake Tahoe will become known as THE premiere recreational sporting destination 365-days-a-year, but especially in fall, by leveraging an existing audience through owned channels. This includes: website, blog, newsletter and social media sites.

There were two audiences with a differing awareness of activities, so our content campaign highlighted beginner-friendly sports (ex: hiking and kayaking), but also more challenging and unknown ones (ex: aerial fabrics). We needed to bridge the gap and make all human powered sports accessible to visitors and tourists alike, with an emphasis on how-to instruction that encourages trial.

The Plan:

We needed to turn lists of information into visually appealing and easy to digest how-to’s. Most components would be created for short-form viewing, i.e. videos between 90 and 120 seconds, social posts of 100 words or less, all visually engaging and interesting.

Campaign duration would last eight weeks, launching August 2014 and ending September 30, 2014. To ensure tools were shared regularly and each sport was highlighted, a content calendar was created and the team highlighted a sport each week.

Tools & Tactics

Online Quiz
How-To Videos
Branded images for social sharing

Each component was created in tandem to ensure a cohesive, holistic brand look and feel. While how-to videos were being filmed, photographs were shot for the eBook and social sharing images. While infographic statistics were pulled, copy for the eBook was written and the two elements shared examples and correlated factual information but in a much different tone.

Social media emphasis was placed on sharing branded and user generated content.  This was shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The Result

Brand Journalism is something every agency should consider for a marketing campaign. Content is authentic vs. sales-y and has the ability to extend a message through multiple channels. I had so much fun creating these elements – working with friends and highlighting a place I truly love. The results were incredible and because so many people touched the work, we are all able to share in its success. Allow me to brag a bit:

Facebook: 24 Posts

On average, initial campaign-centric posts received 100 likes and 1 share. By the end of the campaign, engagement and likes increased to (on average): 1,200 likes per post and 26 comments, 90% of which were positive in nature. In total, the Facebook campaign resulted in 29,952 likes, 2,256 shares and 624 comments.

YouTube: 4 How-To Videos

Total Views: 56,513

Total Impressions: 85,772

Instagram: 21 Posts

Total Likes: 2,199

Total Impressions: 52,713


1 Press Release

7 Blog Posts (total views: 1,567)

3 Newsletters (total distribution: 95,691)

Online Quiz (2,300 shares)

Between the analytics on North Lake Tahoe owned channels, the campaign resulted in 5.1 million impressions. An unexpected result was local, regional and national media attention. In total, there were 15 media placements resulting in an estimated reach of 308,377. Total advertising value from these placements was $40,003.42.