Client: Boy Scouts of America (based in Dallas)
PR Team: Bromley/Manning, Selvage & Lee (San Antonio), internal Boy
Campaign: !Scouting! Vale la pena (Scouting! It's worth the effort)
Time Frame: July 2000 to November 2001
Budget: About $250,000
Norman Rockwell painted the face of scouting for nearly 70 years.
Until his death in the 1970s, the all-American artist depicted Boy
Scouts on calendar pages as white, freckle-faced and semi-rural, recalls
Gulf Coast Council scout executive John Thurston.
But that image didn't fit many scouts, particularly in Thurston's South
Texas district, where Hispanics make up more than 90% of area
And research showed that fewer than 10% of Hispanic parents in Texas
border cities were aware of scouting. In Mexico, from which many of them
recently immigrated, scouting was seen as expensive and elitist.
The Boy Scouts of America hired San Antonio's Bromley/ Manning Selvage &
Lee to boost awareness in South Texas communities, position scouting as
accessible to everyone, and increase involvement among boys and adult
The promotional campaign began last year as a test in the border towns
of Laredo, Del Rio, McAllen, and Eagle Pass. This year, the campaign
expanded to larger and more diverse cities like San Antonio, Houston,
and Corpus Christi.
Extensive research identified strong similarities between Hispanic
values and scouting values that stress family, morality, and religion.
Studies also found that the average US Hispanic listens to the radio for
more than three hours a day.
Bromley designed a broadcast-saturation campaign featuring monthly radio
and TV public service announcements. Some radio spots were purchased
using buy-one-get-one-free PSA arrangements, but many stations ran them
at no cost.
Bromley also recruited pro-bono "hometown hero" spokespeople - former
scouts who grew up to be celebrities, high-ranking clergymen, and civic
leaders. During the original test, spokespeople included Gabriel
Iglesias (a comedian who has appeared on Nickelodeon's All That) and the
Tejano band Delirio, whose members met through scouting. For the more
recent phase, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers players were also
recruited. Delirio represented the Boy Scouts at festivals, and
volunteers and officials promoted the organization at various civic
Organizers targeted administrators at predominantly Hispanic schools by
sending them letters and making presentations at regional Education
Service Center meetings, said Deborah Vallejo, Bromley's VP of PR.
In larger cities further from the border, Hispanic roots extend into
Latin American countries. Campaign materials generated for those
communities used more generic Spanish phrases and avoided Mexican-border
colloquialisms, Vallejo said. Delirio incorporated English-language
songs and hip-hop tunes into the mix at Houston appearances attended by
African-American and Hispanic youth.
Last year's test in border cities increased awareness by more than 100%,
according to research surveys. More than 30 new Boy Scout units were
formed in the target areas, with more than 2,700 new scouts and
volunteers. PSAs ran on 14 radio and 21 TV stations, and more than 100
print articles appeared.
Scouting recruitment traditionally peaks in the fall as the new school
year begins, and the current campaign in Houston, San Antonio, and
Corpus Christi wraps up in November. Therefore, final results have not
been tallied. Phil Bevins, external communications director for the Boy
Scouts of America in Dallas, said he isn't sure whether the organization
will invest in post-campaign research this time around or focus its
resources on extending or expanding the campaign. However, Vallejo notes
that 20 stations have picked up the PSA, and anecdotal evidence showed
strong response to recruitment efforts at Cinco de Mayo events in
Houston and San Antonio.
The Boy Scouts of America will decide early next year whether to
continue testing the campaign format. "If we do, we will probably select
from radically different geographic areas," says Bevins, identifying the
Northeast and Southwest US as likely targets.
Ultimately, the Boy Scouts will likely develop a standardized program
that individual councils can use. Although not a primary goal, the
program might also attract a sponsor able to fund its implementation
nationally, Bevins added.