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June 3

Leaders with Thoughts: Colle McVoy + Jackson Hole

Leaders with Thoughts

Breaking down the work of the Best Of winners at

Ad Fed MN’s The Show 2019.

Colle McVoy was awarded Best of Social Media at The Show 2019 for their Tag Responsibly campaign. As an extension of the award-winning Stay Wild tourism campaign, Colle McVoy introduced Tag Responsibly, an initiative offering a solution to the unintended harm geotagging has caused to precious natural areas in Jackson Hole, and wild spaces everywhere.

The Campaign’s Creds
Best of Social
Social Media, Campaign – Gold
thoughts from
Eric Hansen, Associate Creative Director/Copywriter
The client Jackson Hole Travel & Tourism Board

As Colle McVoy planned for the 2018-19 winter campaign, there was a desire to incorporate conservation messaging. 97% of the Jackson Hole region is protected land. It’s a ruggedly beautiful gem of a place due to its conservation heritage. And while tourism is the area’s main economic driver, many residents were concerned about over-tourism ruining the natural beauty that makes it such a special place.

When they did their research on current environmental concerns, they were struck by a dramatic rise in foot traffic to some lakes and trails far off the beaten path within Grand Teton National Park. With that comes harm to precious habitats, as well as the potential for inexperienced hikers putting themselves in harm’s way because they don’t prepare for the extreme terrain or distance. The driver of this overnight surge in traffic was Instagram geotagging. And as they dug in further, they learned the unintended harm of nature geotagging was a growing problem all over the world.

At that point, Colle McVoy identified the conservation platform.


The team knew immediately that it had to be bigger than just a communication campaign. Social media behavior is deeply ingrained. Plus, there was next-to-zero media budget for this initiative. So to change behavior, the solution had to be simple, have the power to stop thumbs, and have an element of shareability.


A big, powerful, crazy simple idea arrived in a flash: what if we created a generic tag (tied to no specific nature area) that used the campaign message for the location name?

The wording of that location name was vital. The name they arrived at was “Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild.” It was a succinct call-to-action and provided the purpose of forgoing the geotag.

Not only did this tag deliver a clear message; it was a built-in awareness driver for the campaign. Every time someone tags a photo with the generic tag, it introduces the campaign to a new audience.


Having no simple way to create a location on Instagram was a problem. Location tags require a specific volume of check-ins for it appear in the Instagram database.

Fortunately, they figured out a hack, creating a Facebook page for an organization called Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild. They tied it to the address of the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center, and it immediately showed up on Instagram. The next task was getting it to populate as a top tag option all over the Jackson Hole region.

Tag Responsibly, Keep Jackson Hole Wild Instagram Location Tag

They tapped some locals to start tagging photos and get the generic tag to populate. Once a foundation was built, it was time to launch the campaign in earnest.

With little paid support, the budget needed to be approached supremely strategically to maximize potential. Colle McVoy enlisted local influencers known for their love of the outdoors to post Jackson Hole photos and campaign assets using the generic tag but with personal messages.

A simple launch video introduced the concept to the target audiences and geotargeted Instagram ads with visuals of the area’s national parks were delivered to users in or near the particular park.

A series of posters placed at the Jackson Hole airport and local print insertions provided “real world” exposure. But for the most part, awareness was driven by a snowball effect of more people seeing and using the generic location tag. It received a wave of press coverage in both local outlets and national publications like The New York Times, Outside magazine, The Ringer, and Popular Photography.


Evaluating success was manifold. They wanted to see people adopting the tag and with it, a reduction in geotagging of precious natural areas. But there was also the objective of highlighting the Jackson Hole community and its values of conservation. Although a specific metric wasn’t set for that, they delivered on it by creating a national conversation around responsible tourism and addressing the growing problem of geotagging.

Within a few months, the generic tag has been used on 2,700+ public photo and video posts, with many of them coming from professional photographers and an influential number of followers. The earned media coverage was impressions at over 217 million, including international publications in Canada, France, and Australia. Copycat generic tags have popped up, like “Tag Responsibly, Keep Bend Beautiful,” and the National Parks Service recently recognized Tag Responsibly as a best-in-class example of how to promote sustainable tourism. With summer Jackson Hole’s peak season the engagement and awareness should continue to grow every day.Tag Responsibly Jackson Hole

a content series breaking down the work of Best Of winners at Ad Fed MN’s The Show 2019.Leaders with Thoughts