Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Did Park Service violate rules by closing part of Shenandoah for ad that plugged a Subaru?

There's a fine line between promoting a national park and corporate commercialization, Joe Davidson writes for The Washington Post. For example, Shenandoah National Park, along the Blue Ridge in Virginia, partially closed its Skyline Drive for two days last year to film a park promotional advertisement with National Geographic magazine. However, the promotion included a Subaru, with an announcer concluding, “Love. It’s what makes a Subaru a Subaru.” The ad was produced with a drone, normally banned at national parks. (Jeffrey Schmidt photo: Skyline Drive)

Despite the presence of the car and the plug at the end, the National Park Service insists the spots are not commercials for Subaru, Davidson writes. NPS spokesman Jeremy K. Barnum told him, "The video was produced to support the National Park Service centennial goal to connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters and advocates."

But if it looks like commercial and sounds like commercial, isn't it a commercial? Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which secured documents about the shoot through a Freedom of Information Act request, told Davidson, “The visiting public was kept off of park facilities. Park rules against commercial closures and drone access were ignored and the approval was immediate with no apparent internal debate.”

Jim Northrup, Shenandoah’s superintendent, "said the filming would support the 'Find Your Park' campaign while showcasing the park’s 'many dramatic viewsheds,'" Davidson writes. "Making the commercial, he argued, 'is appropriate and compatible with the values and resources of the park.'" (Read more)

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