Hundreds of Hampton Hotels reside along U.S. Highways and 75 percent of the company’s guest’s travel by car.  Hampton Inn’s red, white and blue logo represents what the company and its customers are all about – traditional American values.  When faced with the task of creating a public relations program to cater to the Hampton guest and its 1,000 properties and surrounding communities, Douglas·Cohn & Wolfe (DCW) created “Explore the Highway with Hampton” – a landmark idea, literally!

“Explore the Highway with Hampton” is a campaign dedicated to restoring quirky, cultural and historical roadside attractions.  What’s even better, with help from team member volunteers and communities across the nation.  The program comes on the heels of a nationwide survey, fielded by Hampton Inn and DCW.  The survey, to more than 1,000 people, revealed that nine out of 10 Americans believe it is important to preserve the country’s roadside landmarks.  Hampton seized the opportunity to help preserve the very roadways it serves.

This is a very “Americana” public relations program that Hampton, team members, the media, and most importantly, hotel communities have enthusiastically embraced.  With 150 million media impressions in just eight months and a year-end project (Santa Claus) seen on television stations across America,  “Explore the Highway with Hampton” has much more in store for 2001.


“Explore the Highway with Hampton” seemed to address the public relations objectives Hampton emphasized, but DCW proved the need for such a program through research.

Survey: Some fun survey findings, providing program back-up include:

  • Eight out of 10  families sometimes or always include a visit to a historical landmark or roadside attraction when traveling by car
  • Fifty-four percent of Americans enjoy visiting historical landmarks most, while cultural landmarks (31 percent), those reflecting a city’s heritage (26 percent) and fun or wacky attractions (17 percent) are also popular
  • Eighty-three percent of respondents feel they share some sort of responsibility for preserving the nation’s roadside landmarks

Landmark Search: One of the most important elements of this program was finding landmarks in need of help.  To do this, DCW conducted a national search in a wide variety of places, ranging from speaking with local landmark owners and various Convention and Visitor’s Bureaus to contacting the National Preserve in Washington, D.C.


Key Objectives

  • Generate national awareness of company’s commitment to communities it serves
  • Appeal to media AND consumers
  • Increase print and broadcast coverage

Campaign Strategies

  • Develop umbrella theme  to generate customer, team member  and community interest
  • Trigger the public-spirited, civic-mindedness and traditional values of Hampton guests
  • Create community and team member involvement opportunities


  • Potential and current hotel consumers, specifically families and seniors
  • Hampton communities
  • Hampton team members
  • National/regional/local travel and lifestyle media


Restoration Projects – The company has completed five restoration projects to date.  They are:

“Rain of Arrows” in Mancos, CO -  telephone-sized arrows, towering over 25-foot tee-pees

“See Rock City” barn in Sevierville, TN – barn showcasing one of the first forms of American advertising

“The Big Duck” in Flanders, NY – a famous Long Island landmark, listed on the National Register of Historic Places

“Mission Bells” in Oceanside, CA – well-known bells that mark the historic El Camino Real

“Santa Claus” in Northpole, AK – “World’s Largest” Santa Claus statue, originally built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair

Each project takes extensive planning and research:

  • Creating a local/regional media list
  • Conducting local/regional media outreach
  • Producing and distributing project-focused media materials
  • Working with local contractors and landmark owners to secure projects
  • Inviting local and state officials to present “Explore…” proclamations
  • Utilizing local and state historians to provide information 
  • Inviting Hampton Inn team members and community members to volunteer time to restore the designated landmark

Press Kit – Using national landmark survey statistics as a timely news hook, DCW distributed a press kit during April, “Keep America Beautiful” month, to spark consumer, community and media interest in the program.  Packaged in a colorful folder featuring a “map of the United States” with landmarks, the press kit materials included various survey releases, a company fact sheet and backgrounder.  In addition, the collateral materials introduced the “call to the public” element of the program, providing a Web site address for consumer use to submit landmark nominations in their area – providing a nice local hook for this national campaign.

News Bureau – To further generate national awareness of this community-focused initiative, DCW and Hampton Inn:

  • Conducted pro-active pitch calls and outreach to media
  • Worked with Paul Harvey, the nationally syndicated popular radio personality to produce a radio spot
  • Produced two b-rolls, distributed nationally via satellite feed
  • Created and distributed a matte release in June, welcoming the Summer vacation season.
  • Produced a radio release grabbing the attention of America, pleading the need for public support through landmark nominations
  • Developed and distributed a “national search” release – asking the public to nominate a holiday landmark in need of repair


Although this program officially launched eight months ago, positive feedback from those we targeted for this campaign – Hampton team members, the community and media, is phenomenal.

With five projects under our belt, we’ve received great media coverage with key outlets including USA Today, Newsday, New York Times, Associated Press, Chicago Sun-Times and Money

The Santa Claus refurbishment and b-roll package generated media coverage in more than 100 broadcast outlets in the top 50 markets, including national coverage on CNN (airing 10 times)

In just a little more than eight months, we’ve received more than 150 million impressions

From the community, we’ve received hundreds (10 – 25 per week) of landmark refurbishment requests and positive responses to the program.  Below is just one example: 

“Thank you Hampton Inns. Your efforts are recognized. It is about time America's corporate neighbors take an interest in National Landmarks! We are 140 members strong, and we are heritage travelers. We will lodge at Hampton Inns more often!” -- Laura Overstreet, Roane County Heritage Commission

Team members are starting to call company headquarters to nominate landmarks in their areas so they can pitch in with the effort

Paul Harvey, the popular nationally syndicated radio host, jumped at the opportunity to help 

Tennessee’s First Lady, Martha Sundquist, traveled from Nashville to Knoxville to support the barn project
Hampton is so thrilled with the program, it is extending the initiative into 2001