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Priming the press for Cabela’s

Photo of grand opening at Cabela's in Missoula

Over the years, our agency has organized and promoted quite a number of public and press events on behalf of clients. But when we contracted to assist Cabela’s in the grand opening of its Missoula Outpost, we knew we were in for a different kind of project.

Missoula is, after all, a town where hunting and fishing aren’t just pastimes; they’re passions for many folks (including most of our agency’s staff). I personally remember pouring over Dad’s Cabela’s catalog when it arrived in the mail; it was always cover-to-cover reading. I may be loyal to a fault to my favorite local fly shop, but I’m always excited to have another place to shop for the rest of my gear.

As an agency, our job was to maximize local advance press for the grand opening. (The event itself was organized by Cabela’s national marketing firm.) So, in the weeks leading up to the event, we reached out to local radio, TV and print outlets, offering them opportunities to talk with company staff and other ideas for coverage.

Turns out, local media were as excited as anyone to get a glimpse inside the new store at Brooks and Reserve, in a newly built building where Kmart once stood. At a press preview event reporters from every local TV station as well as the Missoulian and a couple of local radio stations showed up, interviewed staff and even participated in demos.

JB_Cabelas_GO_3557Finally, the big day arrived. A reporter from KPAX showed up at 6 a.m. for a live broadcast from the parking lot. But he was far from the first person there. Some hardcore customers had been lined up in front of the store for days, waiting for the opening. (The first 500 people in line were guaranteed gift cards, and some folks took that as a good-enough excuse for some camping.)

Mary Cabela, co-founder of the company, was there and before the doors opened she gave a surprisingly moving speech to the staff inside the store. A store employee cut the ribbon in classic Cabela’s style, shooting it through with an arrow.

With that, a queue of more than 2,000 people — the largest grand opening event crowd that we know of in Missoula history — began streaming through the doors.

Did our agency bring all those people there through our press work? Certainly not. The event was, above everything, a testament to the company itself and its understanding of its customers.

Cabela’s management knows that underneath the sheen of camo, everything they sell is about creating and enhancing experiences. That recognition guides how they design their stores, and it guides how they unveil those stores to the public. For us, it was great working with a company that really gets the importance of an integrated, well-thought brand experience.

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