Detroit Lake Recreation Area


Detroit Lake is a major destination for boating enthusiasts, who are the primary support for the economic foundation of the corridor between Salem and Sisters. During a year when the lake was adversely affected by a dry winter and a federal spill-off to enhance fish created critically low water levels. Marinas were forced to close. No boats, other than small canoes and rowboats were able to be used on the lake.


The Target: We were able to determine rather quickly to redirect their target audience. There was no point in trying to target boaters, because there would be no boating at Detroit Lake that summer.

Further questioning revealed that the lower lake level combined with the reduction in visitors resulted in extraordinarily good fishing. We recognized that the recreation area had many non-boating options for outdoor activities. So, we focused on turning their problem for boaters into an opportunity for non-boaters.

The Message: The message romanced the beautiful surroundings, hiking trails, quiet evenings around a campfire and the peace and serenity of the outdoors without the noise of loud powerboats ruining the mood.

The Media: The media strategy was built with the goal of improving visitor counts throughout the entire summer, targeting visitors within a triangle formed between Eugene, Bend and Portland. We divided the budget into three parts: radio, newspaper and public relations. The media was strategically spread out over a two month period running at key times to create awareness for travel planning.

Public Relations: As a result of our PR efforts, we received positive press in virtually every newspaper from Portland to Eugene. The situation was covered on every Portland television station as well as Salem and Portland radio. Senator Gordon Smith made an appearance at the lake to speak about the problems and played the radio commercial as part of his speech.

The theme we created was picked up by every media who covered the story and was praised as a proactive, positive way to approach the problem.


The Detroit Ranger District web page saw an immediate 817% increase in the number of page views and brochure requests. They also reported a significant increase in the number of calls for information.

Local motel owners reported a 5 – 10% increase in visitors following the campaign. Day visitor increased significantly more. Businesses, including stores and gift shops also reported a noticeable increase in visitor numbers, many of whom directly credited the advertising.