Kampgrounds of America Inc. is closing out a robust summer, its chairman/CEO said, thanks in part to an assist from a former Reno, Nev., advertising colleague and two other local agencies.

Last year, Jim Rogers, head of the Billings, Mont.-based franchisor of 400-plus campgrounds across North America, called upon Mark Curtis Jr. in KOA’s struggle for recession-pinched vacationers’ business, according to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

With help from Mark Curtis & Friends, Boost Creative Services and Jeffery Dow Photography, the KOA brand has been revitalized and its website updated and freshened.

And that, Rogers said, is a key to KOA’s turnaround after a woeful 2008.

“We anticipate a record summer, and that’s certainly in contrast to what’s happening in the hotel business,” he said. “Americans are looking for more for their money. The camping industry is historically archaic, in the dark ages. But we’ve developed a brand and brought it to life again.”

He knew where to turn. He and Curtis were partners in Curtis + Rogers Advertising for five years in the late 1980s before Rogers left to go back to Harrah’s Reno as general manager.

Rogers completed 25 years with the gaming giant before leaving a decade ago for KOA, while Curtis + Rogers was eventually bought out.

Answering Rogers’ call, Curtis, now a brand consultant, brought in former Curtis + Rogers art director Ronnie Parker, owner of Boost Creative Services, and photographer Jeffrey Dow, who operates Jeffery Dow Photography.

“The whole company is based on real people,” Curtis said of KOA. “They’re one of the most iconic brands on the planet. So we added people and some white background and the words, ‘Welcome to…’ on the logo.

“We used lots of pictures with real people. They were fun, exciting, charismatic. Professional models wouldn’t have been any better.”

Against the backdrop of a recession, Curtis said KOA has put the focus on families and fun in camping, much of it on an enhanced online reservations and information site.

“It’s a great time to rediscover camping. We’ve used the economy as a way for people to rediscover family with a vacation that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg,” he said. “The good news is the numbers have rebounded.”

Rogers, who still maintains a home in Reno, said KOA expects double-digit increases in business for August from a year ago.

“Part of that is fuel prices are down. But I give a lot of credit to the whole team,” he said of the help from Reno as well as his own staff.

“We worked so closely over the years. That makes a difference. We were hit hard in ’08, and now we’ll probably see a record year by the end of September. It’s fantastic.”