Using a holistic marketing strategy to connect children and families with enrichment camps to reignite a love of learning


How an integrated marketing campaign helped 70,500+ students rebuild socioemotional skills and address learning loss in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic’s disruptive impact on the education system left school-aged children, particularly those from disadvantaged households and those whose guardians do not speak English as a first language, facing many challenges. Academic learning gaps widened, test scores plummeted, and the development of critical social skills was hindered. The pandemic’s relentless grip on normalcy further eroded the joy of learning, leaving many children struggling to adapt to a new normal marked by uncertainty and disruption.


In response, the Arizona Governor’s Office implemented a transformative solution: free summer learning camps for the state’s K-12 students. The brand new program, christened AZ OnTrack, was a way of bridging the gap and reigniting enthusiasm for learning in a post-pandemic world. 


However, right out the gates there were significant challenges to getting such an ambitious initiative off the ground. This was a first-of-its-kind program in Arizona. Students, parents, and educators were entirely unfamiliar with AZ OnTrack and what it set out to accomplish. So generating awareness of the completely unknown AZ OnTrack initiative, educating the audience on its benefits, and driving traffic to registration sites for AZ OnTrack camps that summer would all be critical. Adding to the challenge, the initiative was approved by the Governor’s Office in February and marketing needed to be live in market in April in order to reach parents as they were starting to think about registering their children for summer camps. That left only about six weeks to establish a visual identity and campaign creative concepts, execute ad creative, build a strategic paid media plan, and launch that media program across the state of Arizona.


Tallwave’s carefully crafted dual-language, multi-channel media campaign would successfully generate awareness of the new AZ OnTrack brand, resulting in over 110,000 educational camp experiences for Arizona school children, including those in rural and underdeveloped areas. This initiative demonstrates the power of deploying holistic marketing strategies through truly integrated marketing teams.


Generating awareness of the completely unknown
AZ OnTrack initiative, educating the audience on its benefits, and driving traffic to registration sites for
AZ OnTrack camps that summer would all be critical.

Reaching the most vulnerable population and encouraging participation with targeted messaging


Establishing an identity and constructing a plan to promote summer learning

In a very short period of time, Tallwave had to establish a visual identity and creative concept that would positively address the concerns of many parents, caregivers, and educators regarding Arizona children’s loss of in-person experiences and interactions over the past two years. This creative concept would be vital for setting the tone for the initiative as a whole and driving consistency across website content and design, ad copy, and every touchpoint of the campaign.

At the same time, Tallwave would need to build a comprehensive media plan to disseminate this information to that audience. This media plan would need to reach rural corners of the state, including reservations, which historically have little to no physical advertising inventory and unreliable internet services to connect residents with online platforms. 

With a clear goal to connect parents and students with the transformative power of summer learning and enrichment, Tallwave embarked on a strategic mission to reach as many Arizona students as possible to promote AZ OnTrack’s free summer camps.


Delving into data to understand our audience

Before embarking on our awareness-raising initiatives, we conducted a brief survey among Arizona parents of K-12 children to better understand their concerns, preferences, and values. This qualitative data was invaluable in informing our content and creative strategy, ensuring our messaging resonated with the target audience.


The survey findings revealed how well prepared parents and caregivers believed their children were academically and socially for the next school year, the biggest gap areas they perceived, how much previous experience they had with summer learning camps, and their core criteria for selecting summer learning camp experiences for their children. 


Understanding these parental perceptions, prior experiences, priorities, and expectations gave us the information we needed to craft messaging addressing their concerns and needs. 


While our brand team was hard at work uncovering our audience’s motivators, our paid media team set to work researching how to best get in front of our audience. Utilizing data sources like Nielsen, MRI-Simmons, and Google Ads, we were able to identify which areas of Arizona over-indexed for low-income households and children in grades K-12. This helped us ensure equitable campaign reach to families whose children’s education and enrichment were most impacted by the pandemic

Defining moment

Using insights to define strategy

Armed with both qualitative and quantitative insights about our audience and our market, Tallwave was ready to develop a holistic, integrated marketing strategy tailored to meet the precise needs of our audience.

Paid Search CVR
0 %
AlL Paid Channels CVR
1 %
Camp Experiences


An integrated strategy creates efficiencies and drives results

Working closely together, Tallwave’s brand, creative, content, paid media, and website teams used insights from the initial research to develop a comprehensive strategy that would ensure consistency across all touchpoints, maximize every interaction, and drive tangible results. The integrated approach also allowed our team to rapidly activate on creative and campaign development which ensured a timely entrance to the market.

Creative concept

We designed a simple, yet eye-catching logo, a bright color palette,  bold font, high-energy image library, and dynamic graphic treatments as part of the AZ OnTrack initiative’s visual identity. The elements were unique and would help drive the desired emotional reaction for the audience while contrasting well with other messaging in the market to ensure the campaign stood out in the right ways.

AZ on Track campaign image
Campaign creative + content

The creative concept was amplified with a content strategy and applied to campaign assets with an upbeat, energetic, and positive tone designed to speak to both children and parents/caregivers through exciting, adventurous imagery, and fun, punchy taglines. Each creative execution in the series conveyed a sense of joyful participation, experiential learning, and positive peer interaction, all of which encouraged creativity, self-regulation, emotional growth, and back-to-in-person-school preparedness.

An example of a print ad used in the AZ on Track Campaign.
Paid media

Our paid media team launched a well-rounded dual-language media plan targeting parents and students, with an emphasis on reaching rural parts of the state. This included a heavy digital presence with streaming TV and audio placements, digital video, display, and paid search, which allowed us to target very specific geographic regions, including those with limited physical advertising inventory. Impactful, full-page ads in local print education publications were also used to get out the message to parents and students. Digital billboard networks were used to rotate messaging around the metropolitan parts of the state based on areas that over-indexed for households with school-age children. Static billboards were secured in more rural parts of the state where digital inventory is lacking and static boards make a significant impression on passersby (just try and drive past our bright orange billboards without doing a double take!).

Storyboard showing a variety of paid media placements.
Experience design

Recommendations were provided and implemented to enhance the website’s UX/UI, visuals, and messaging to align with the overall campaign concept, thus ensuring a seamless experience from the initial brand discovery to camp enrollment.

Do better

Integrated teams iterate faster

The entire campaign only ran from April to July, so we had to maximize performance in a very short window. The integrated nature of our marketing team allowed us to quickly identify, address, and resolve friction points in the marketing campaign. This included pivoting on the billboard color choice before going to print (white vinyls don’t hold up well in a state that gets sand storms), adjusting paid search messaging to better resonate with specific audience segments, and adjusting design elements of the “find a camp” button on the website to improve the on-site user experience.


During this three-month campaign, the banner ads for our streaming audio campaign, typically an awareness channel that does not drive much engagement, averaged a 0.39% CTR, nearly twice the channel benchmark. Our standard display ads averaged a CTR of 0.26%, over 2.5X the industry benchmark, and our interactive dual-language unit had over 18K interactions with a 1.14% CTR! Our paid search campaigns had an average CVR of 40.20% and our overall conversion rate from all paid media channels was 20.77%, making this an extremely effective paid media program.

An integrated marketing program empowered AZ OnTrack to reinvigorate students with a love of learning

Tallwave’s commitment to holistic, integrated marketing strategies enabled us to establish a thoughtfully designed creative concept and content strategy for a net new initiative and launch a well-rounded marketing campaign to promote it in less than two months. It also enabled us to rapidly adapt and optimize the campaign during its short lifetime to trigger immediate performance improvements.


Ultimately, this campaign was a resounding success, leading to more than 110,000 camp experiences for Arizona school children in just three months of active marketing. Our integrated marketing campaign helped AZ OnTrack empower thousands of students to continue their educational journey and embrace a love for learning.


Are you ready to see the lasting impact of a holistic, integrated marketing strategy tailored to your brand’s unique audience?


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