Influencing the Influencers – An Integrated Campaign to address National Challenges

July 22, 2009 MullenLowe

Department of Defense, Joint Advertising Market Research and Studies (JAMRS)

Background and Key Challenge
There was a time in America when every family had a veteran in its midst. These men and women, who lived by a code of honor and whose mettle had been tested, emerged knowing that they were capable of far more than they had ever dreamed possible. If their children ever contemplated a career in the military, no verbal endorsement was necessary.

Welcome to the 21st century. The war in Iraq and the war against terrorism have clearly taken a toll on our country’s psyche. The approval rating among all Americans for the war in Iraq is at an all-time low. The erosion of confidence is even more evident in parents of young adults 16—21 years old. Support for the war among youth of recruitment age is also declining. This growing ambivalence posed a serious challenge to our client, the United States Department of Defense (DoD), in meeting its recruitment goals for all military services.

While conducting research with parents, Mullen discovered that only one in 10 considered the military a viable career option for their children. More than half of parents told us that they were less likely to recommend the military to young adults due to the war on terrorism. Only one in three said they would strongly support their child’s decision to join the military. Our challenge was to reintroduce adult influencers to the values the military represents and the positive role it plays in American society so that they would be willing to have a thoughtful conversation with youth regarding military service.

Key Insight
Through our research, we learned that most conversations that parents and kids have about the military are initiated by the youth, so parents are generally caught by surprise and ill prepared to handle such important conversations. We also discovered that, by and large, parents easily reject the military as an option based on their own impressions and fears. What adults didn’t object to was the idea of becoming better informed about the military so they could help their child weigh the pros and cons of military service. The thoughtfulness required for such a critical decision was difficult to deny. And we found that an informed, two-way conversation about military service increased the chance of parental support.

JAMRS and Public Relations
The JAMRS campaign is a fully integrated marketing communications program that reaches adult influencers through a variety of media platforms including print advertising, a television Public Service Announcement (PSA), print and broadcast editorial coverage, direct mail and the Web.

Mullen’s PR team works within the integrated team to support, enhance and promote the marketing initiatives of JAMRS, from the Make It A Two Way Conversation advertising campaign to the premiere of the documentary. The PR team also works to create national awareness for the values, qualities and benefits gained from military service, as seen in the Futures publications. Through crisis media relations and development of public affairs guidance papers, JAMRS PR works to change perception and build advocacy among American adult influencers to consider and possibly recommend military service to youth in their lives.

Through a multi-disciplinary approach to reach JAMRS’ target audiences, the Mullen PR team develops initiatives that support and extend the JAMRS mission; construct formal messaging and Qs&As; research and monitor media; create educational materials, plan and execute promotional events; and support crisis communications planning.