CAMPAIGN: Community Outreach - Boy Scouts looks to add minorities

Client: Boy Scouts of America (based in Dallas)

PR Team: Bromley/Manning, Selvage & Lee (San Antonio), internal Boy

Scouts staff

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.

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